By Terrance V. Newhouse
Dramatic mine injuries early in 2006 have ended in passage of the 1st significant modification to federal mine safeguard legislation given that 1977. The Mine development and New Emergency reaction Act calls for each one mine to have an emergency plan, elevated offers of oxygen, and stronger rescue groups. consequences for violations have additionally been elevated. even supposing the invoice had extensive aid in Congress, a few individuals have characterized it as just a 'first step', to be via extra measures that may comprise a decrease greatest restrict on dirt concentrations, underground refuges, communications and monitoring units, and bigger emphasis on enforcement of criteria. On January 2, 2006, the state was once reminded of the risks of underground mining, as 12 miners died in an explosion and hearth within the Sago mine in West Virginia. hence, the Mine security and overall healthiness management (MSHA) issued new laws; Congress has handed the 1st significant revision of the mine defense legislations for the reason that 1977 and has taken extra money owed into account; and, country legislatures in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Illinois have tightened their very own legislation. those responses have emphasized components suggestion to have performed an element within the Sago tragedy, together with emergency oxygen offers, monitoring and verbal exchange platforms, and deployment of rescue groups. There have additionally been proposals to extend the consequences for violations of security criteria.
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AGENCY COMMENTS We obtained comments on a draft of this report from MSHA, the Department of Labor’s Office of the Solicitor, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission. Their comments are reproduced in appendixes III, IV, and V. MSHA and the Solicitor also provided technical clarifications, which we incorporated as appropriate. MSHA, the Office of the Solicitor, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission agreed with the recommendations addressed to each of their organizations.
MSHA noted that both agencies started the process of developing a memorandum of understanding in 2002 and stated that it will work with NIOSH to revitalize this effort and complete the process. MSHA, Labor’s Office of the Solicitor, and the Commission agreed with our recommendation for improving the penalty appeals process. Each of them agreed that there needs to be transparency in penalty determinations and that the specific rationale need to be provided when penalties are reduced from the levels originally proposed.
MSHA noted that this action may require regulatory changes. MSHA also explained that there are other avenues that instructors can use to stay current on mining issues, such as attending an annual conference dedicated to training resources for the industry. MSHA also recognized the need to improve the data it maintains on instructors and noted that it has plans to improve its tracking and dissemination of up-to-date information on approved instructors. In response to our recommendation that MSHA and NIOSH develop a memorandum of understanding, both agencies concurred with the need for a formal agreement and stated that such an agreement will help strengthen their coordination activities.