2012: A Mining Milestone
With an incident rate that is 8 times higher than others sectors, the risky environment of the mining industry requires extra provisions and precautions. The Mine Safety and Health Administration’s (MSHA) dedication to preventing injuries and illnesses in the mining sector is evident in the final mining data for 2012. For the second consecutive year, 2012 statistics reflect the lowest injury and fatality rates in US mining history. These statistics were calculated using data from mine inspections, violations, number of mines and miners, and injury and fatality rates.
Since 1977, when MSHA passed the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977, the industry’s safety record has experienced continuous improvement. The number of fatalities dropped significantly from 273 in 1977 to 35 in 2012. MSHA uses a strategy of surveillance combined with enforcement through impact inspections, outreach efforts and special initiatives. One such initiative is “Rules to Live By,” a program designed to prevent mining deaths, injuries and incidents.
Joseph A Main, Assistant Secretary of Labor for MSHA, included the following statement in his Q1 2013 stakeholder letter:
“In order to prevent mine deaths, operators must have in place effective safety and health management programs that are constantly evaluated, find-and-fix programs to identify and eliminate mine hazards, and training for all mining personnel.”
In the past two years, MSHA issued two final regulations that aim to prevent coal mine dust explosions by evaluating and enforcing safer mining work environments. Effective August 6, 2012, the final rule for Examinations of Work Areas in Underground Coal Mines for Violations of Mandatory Health or Safety Standard requires that coal mine operators determine the nine health and safety standards that pose the greatest risk to miners. For each standard, the operators must identify and correct the violations and hazardous conditions.
Contractors who are subject to MSHA’s regulations and are registered with ISNetworld have the ability to measure and track their injury and illness statistics within the “Key Performance Indicators” section of the United States questionnaire to ensure they are following safety protocols. ISN contractors who reported an NAICS code beginning with 21 (Mining, Quarrying, and Oil and Gas Extraction) have a nonfatal TRIR average equaling 1.95 for 2011 versus the 2011 BLS average nonfatal TRIR of 2.2.
The most recent final rule on Pattern of Violations (POV), effective March 25, 2013, grants MSHA more authority to enforce corrective actions on operators who disregard the health and safety of their miners. Mines with a pattern of significant and substantial (S&S) violations will receive written notice from MSHA. After each S&S violation that follows, MSHA issues an order withdrawing workers from the mines until the citations are resolved. MSHA’s Pattern of Violations Monitoring Tool allows mine operators to track if they are subject to a POV notice. These final rules show how MSHA’s fervent dedication to strengthening the mining industry’s health and safety record is a proven success.
The International Social Security Association’s (ISSA) Seven Golden Rules is a helpful resource to maintain the downward trend for incident rates in the mining industry and to ensure that your company is practicing safe and economical mining. Together, everyone involved in the mining industry can set a historical record by making 2013 the third consecutive year with the lowest mining injury and fatality Rates in U.S. history.