California’s Free Mining & Tunneling Training Schedule

California enforces its own mining and tunneling regulations through Cal/OSHA’s Mining and Tunneling (M&T) Unit.  The main function of this specialized unit is to investigate complaints and accidents in mines and tunnels and to issue citations to employers that violate regulations.  The M&T Unit also conducts pre-job safety conferences and issues permits prior to the commencement of underground mining or tunneling.  The M&T department also conducts random/periodic inspections of tunnels, underground mines, and surface mines and quarries.

The M&T Unit has a specialized mine safety training offered free for mine operators and employees. The safety training is geared to provide education to new miners and refreshers to experience miners.

The M&T Unit offers free classes in Sacramento and San Bernardino. The classes include training in educating miners in 30 CFR parts 46 and 48 New Miner Training; 30 CFR parts 46 and 48 Newly Hired Experienced Miner Training; and 30 CFR parts 46 and 48 Annual Refresher Training for surface mining.

M&T’s website lists the following times and dates for MSHA Training:

Sacramento:

New Miner Training: March 27, 28, 29; April 24, 25, 26; May 30, 31; June 1.

Annual Refresher: April 21; May 25; June 23.

San Bernardino:

New Miner Training: March 21, 22, 23; April 11, 12, 13; May 16, 17, 18; June 20, 21, 22.

Annual Refresher: April 19; May 10; June 14.

You can find out more about Cal/OSHA’s M&T Training services by visiting the organizations website.

 

MSHA Announces Results of Special Impact Inspections From December 2016

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration has announced the results of its monthly special impact inspections from December 2016. During the month, MSHA conducted inspections at 10 coal mines and five metal and nonmetal mines during the month and issued 132 citations.  The inspections took place at mines in Alabama, Illinois, Kentucky, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming.

This is a continuation of MSHA’s monthly impact inspections which started in April 2010. These inspections focus on mines with a poor compliance history or particular compliance issues.  In total, MSHA inspectors have conducted 1,270 impact inspections and issued 17,255 citations, 1,331 orders and 62 safeguards since these monthly inspections began.

This continued enforcement effort comes on the heel of MSHA reporting that 2016 had the lowest number of mining deaths on record. For 2016, only 26 miners died in work-related accidents which followed 2015 where only 29 miners died.  Out of approximately 330,000 miners working in more than 13,000 U.S. mines, this fatality rate is less than .01%.

Even with the change in Administration, there is no indication that MSHA will pull back on its current schedule of monthly inspections especially in light of the reduction in miner deaths. Thus mine operators and other affected industries must continue to ensure that they are prepared for such inspections and have effective safety and health programs in place that address the specific conditions and hazards.

Jackson Lewis attorneys are available to assist clients with their worker safety programs.

MSHA decides that the White House’s Regulatory Freeze Does Not Apply to its New Rule

MSHA decided to move forward with its controversial Examination of Workplaces in Metal and Nonmetal Mines Rule without regard to a White House Memorandum requesting federal agencies to delay rules for sixty days. (see our Blog on this Rule from October http://www.mshalawadvisor.com/2016/10/mshas-proposed-rule-examination-of-working-places-in-metal-and-nonmetal-mnm-mines-draws-criticism/)  The Rule became final on January 23, 2017 with an effective date of May 23, 2017.  Although a White House Memorandum dated January 20, 2017 requested that all federal agencies delay the implementation of final rules for sixty days, MSHA determined that because this rule was already on public display on January 17, 2017, but not actually final until January 23, 2017, it could not be withdrawn.  And, if you are now wondering how this makes much sense (since the rule was not final by January 20th), MSHA further determined that regardless of this issue – whether it was a final rule covered by the memorandum or not – the final rule was not going to be effective until May 23, 2017.  Therefore, MSHA rationalized that since the implementation date was over sixty days away,  it would have plenty of time to review any issues created by the final rule prior to its effective date, which was ultimately the purpose of the January 20th White House Memorandum.  So, in other words, no harm no foul….

Whether all of this was the meaning and intent of the January 20th Memorandum or not, this likely leaves any decisions related to this rule to the new Assistant Secretary for the Mine Safety and Health Administration.  Now we wait to find out who that will be and the direction of MSHA during this Administration.

New Structural Failure Alert Issued

The MSHA Alliance Program recently issued a new safety alert, Structural Failure Alert: Best Practices to Prevent Structural Failures. The MSHA Alliance Program is a voluntary partnership program that allows MSHA to collaborate with industry groups to provide training and education, outreach and technical assistance to mine operators and miners on improving mine safety and health.

The latest publication under the MSHA Alliance Program focuses on preventing structural failures. The safety alert encourages operators to train miners and supervisors on some simple measures to help identify the signs of structural damage and prevent a potentially catastrophic incident.  Specifically, operators are reminded to make good housekeeping a priority by removing spillage and water build-up from around the base of structures, columns and off the flanges of horizontal beams since accumulation of wet material can cause corrosion.

Operators also are encouraged to have their safety and supervisory personnel inspect structures during audits and train miners on identifying and reporting structural problems.   The safety alert notes that operators should examine structural supports made out of steel, concrete, wood, masonry, aluminum and fiber-reinforced polymer during inspections, and it provides a list of the signs of structural damage that miners should be on the lookout for and report to management personnel if discovered.

The MSHA Alliance Program encourages operators to engage a qualified structural engineer if damage is detected and repairs are needed. In addition, the MSHA Alliance recommends that operators barricade and post warning signs around areas where structural problems may have been detected to prevent entry pending those repairs.

To learn more about the signs of structural damage and what miners should be on the lookout for, you can review the safety alert on MSHA’s webpage.

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