New Acting Head of MSHA Named

On August 21st, 2017, Secretary of Labor, Alexander Acosta, announced that Wayne Palmer, former Chief of Staff for the Department of Labor, will serve as interim Assistant Secretary for the Mine Safety and Health Administration, filling a role not addressed since Donald Trump’s inauguration.  It is not clear if Mr. Palmer has mining experience, as his position prior to working at the DOL was serving as Chief of Staff for former Pennsylvania Senator, Rick Santorum.  Mr. Palmer worked on the transition team for President Trump, and was part of the beachhead team for the Department of Labor following the election. However, national and state mining associations continue to press for someone with a background working in the mining industry for the permanent head of MSHA position.

Due to the fact that this appointment is temporary, Senate confirmation is not required.  Therefore, new leadership roles can be filled within the agency fairly quickly.  The Trump Administration is expected to announce a nominee for the permanent role within the next 2 weeks.  Following the confirmation of the new Assistant Secretary for MSHA, Mr. Palmer may stay on as Deputy Assistant Secretary.

Mine Safety Agency Issues Accident Alert on Haul Truck Operations

The Mine Safety and Health Administration issued a “Close Call Accident Alert” after a June 19, 2017, accident involving a haul truck driver.

In the incident, MSHA said, a haul truck driver with six weeks of experience traveled into the pit loading area and waited to be loaded. The driver stopped the haul truck about 30 feet from where a supervisor had parked his van, the agency said. The supervisor had been giving instructions to excavator operators in the area, and he returned to his van as the loader operator sounded the horn to notify the driver to move the haul truck into position for loading. The truck driver drove forward, striking and pushing the supervisor’s van 30-to-40 feet. The supervisor got out of the van through the window, without any injuries.

To read my full article, click here.

Mine Safety Agency Enhances Enforcement of ‘Rules to Live By’ to Prevent Mining Fatalities

The Mine Safety and Health Administration said it has begun “enhanced” enforcement of its “Rules to Live By” initiative, regulating standards commonly linked to mine deaths, as well as nine underground coal mine exam standards, targeting the greatest risks to miners in underground coal mines.

The agency announced in 2016 that these heightened measures would begin July 1, 2017. To read my full article, click here.

Mine Safety Agency Re-Launches Annual Program to Prevent Roof and Rib Fall Accidents

The Mine Safety and Health Administration said that it is re-launching its annual Preventive Roof/Rib Outreach Program (PROP) to expand awareness among coal miners and mine operators of roof and rib fall hazards.

The federal agency said that underground coal mine accidents from roof falls, rib falls, and coal bursts are still a leading cause of injuries, even though roof control technology improvements have reduced incident numbers significantly. To read my full article, click here.

Mine Safety Agency Issues Alert on Coal Truck Dumping Safety

The Mine Safety and Health Administration has issued a safety alert following the death of a tractor trailer coal truck driver whose truck tipped over earlier this year.

MSHA said the driver was driving a tractor trailer on February 3 and the coal in the truck bed was damp and frozen. As the driver raised the bed, attempting to dump the load of coal, the trailer rocked and eventually tipped over. The driver jumped from the truck, the agency said, and suffered fatal injuries.  Click here to read my article.

Mine Safety Agency Launches ‘Training Assistance Initiative’ for Miners with Less Experience

Recent coal-mining deaths have prompted the Mine Safety and Health Administration to launch a voluntary “training assistance initiative” for miners with less than one year of experience in mining or in their current job, MSHA has announced.

During a “stakeholder presentation” on June 8, 2017, at the agency’s National Mine Health and Safety Academy in Beaver, West Virginia, in which they discussed “issues and trends” the agency noticed after a series of recent accidents, MSHA deputy administrator for coal mine safety and health Tim Watkins said the data on fatalities and injuries in recent months “jumped out at us,” spotlighting a need to better train miners with less experience in mining or on their current job.  Click here to read my full article.

LexBlog