OIG: MSHA’s POV Problems Stem From Lack of Leadership Across the Years

MSHA has not successfully exercised its POV authority in 32 years due in part by a lack of leadership and priority in the Department across various administrations, according to a report released today by the Office of the Inspector General.

The IG noted that what limited POV process was in place was “unreliable and the criteria were complex and lacked a supportable rationale,” a complaint made by a Review Commission ALJ.

The audit also concluded that:

  • MSHA did not monitor the implementation of mine operators’ POV corrective action plans;

  • Logic errors caused unreliable results from MSHA

Emergency Standard for All Underground Coal Mines

Effective Sept. 23, 2010, MSHA is revising rock dust standards by requiring mine operators to increase the total incombustible content of the combined coal dust, rock dust and other dust from 65% to 80% in all accessible areas of underground bituminous mines, and an additional 0.4% for each 0.1 % of methane where methane is present in any ventilating current.

Mine operators must comply with the ETS for newly mined areas by Oct. 7, 2010, and all other areas of the mine by Nov. 22, 2010.
To meet these compliance dates, MSHA states that mine operators immediately begin rock dusting all areas, starting with those that pose the greatest risk to miners: for example, areas near the active faces and areas that contain possible ignition sources, such as conveyer belt drives and belt entries.

Emergency Temporary Standards take effect immediately when evidence is presented that workers are in grave danger. They remain in effect until a standard is promulgated through the regular rulemaking process. MSHA-head Joe Main noted in a press statement that NIOSH had made this recommendation in May 2010 and presented new scientific evidence that called for a higher standard.

Related Document: Emergency Temporary Standard (PDF)