ARLINGTON, Va. – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration today announced that federal inspectors issued 198 citations and 11 orders during special impact inspections conducted at 11 coal mines and three metal and nonmetal mines in January.
The monthly inspections, which began in force in April 2010 following the explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine, involve mines that merit increased agency attention and enforcement due to their poor compliance history or particular compliance concerns. The inspection details of two mines are listed below:
On Jan. 2, MSHA conducted an impact inspection during the evening shift at Baylor Mining Inc.’s Beckley Crystal Mine located in Raleigh County, W.Va. Twelve enforcement actions were issued, including one unwarrantable failure citation, four unwarrantable failure orders and one 104(b) order for failure to abate a hazardous condition in a timely manner. This impact inspection was the first one conducted at this mine.
After arriving on mine property, two MSHA inspection personnel secured mine communications, and the inspection party split up to travel to the working section and a belt segment. Their inspection included producing sections and belt conveyers, and they traveled the intake air course and alternate escapeway.
During the inspection of the belt conveyor, a 104(d)(1) citation was issued for failure to lock and tag the belt drive at the power source to guard against motion, and a 104(b) order was issued for failure to abate this condition within the prescribed time period. Immediately before the 104(b) order was issued, miners were observed on top of the belt toward the working face. A 104(d)(1) order was issued for accumulations of coal float dust, coal fines and loose coal along the entirety of the belt, in the crosscuts along the offside of the belt and behind the take-up. A 104(d)(1) order was issued for an inadequate on-shift examination of the belt. Hazardous conditions, such as coal and float dust accumulations and the bottom belt rubbing against the belt stands, stuck training roller and bottom roller brackets were obvious and not recorded in the record book.
On the working section, inspectors issued a 104(d)(1) order for the operator’s failure to follow the approved ventilation plan requiring the maintenance of the maximum curtain setback distance of 20 feet. Enforcement personnel found that the operator had been mining up to 30 feet from the deepest point of penetration without the placement of line curtains within the maximum distance of 20 feet to ventilate hazardous dust away from miners. The extendable line curtain in the entry did not touch the mine roof or the mine floor as required in the approved ventilation plan. These violations, which put miners at elevated risk for black lung, resulted in a revocation of the deep cut plan at this mine.
Seven 104(a) citations were issued for ventilation, electrical and health violations. Following the MSHA closeout, the operator developed and implemented a corrective action plan and made improvements to the mine’s ventilation plan.
Beginning Jan. 13, MSHA conducted an impact inspection at Norlite LLC’s Cohoes Mine and Mill in Albany County, N.Y. This surface gold mine and facility employs approximately 85 miners. MSHA issued 41 citations and orders to the mine operator and seven citations to independent contractors.
On two different occurrences, a miner was observed under a suspended load of materials. Miners were exposed to inadvertent contact with a rotating conveyor tail pulley due to a missing guard that was lying approximately two feet away from the conveyor. A cover on the energized 480-volt wire tray was not secured in place, thereby exposing the inner conductors to damage. Such damage could create a ground fault condition and the potential for a fatal electrical shock.
A miner was observed moving an air compressor with a forklift without securing it with safety chains, causing the potential for it to fall and roll uncontrollably. Inspectors observed a 480-volt power cord with damage to its outer protective jackets, which could expose miners to electrical shock. Several other hazardous conditions were found, such as: missing handrails, defective ladders, and oxygen and acetylene cylinders left open and unattended.
Since April 2010, MSHA has conducted 714 impact inspections and issued 11,760 citations, 1,087 orders and 49 safeguards.