MSHA Announces New 100 Percent Plan for Mine Inspections

MSHA announced a new “100 percent” initiative to complete all mandated safety inspections for at coal mines before the end of the year. The new plan calls for the temporary reassignment of MSHA inspectors to areas where they are most needed and provides for increased overtime for additional hours needed to complete inspections until all trainees are fully qualified.

The announcement of the plan was made after MSHA admitted it has fallen short on its inspection completion rate for the federal 2007 financial year, which ended Sept. 30. In years past, the agency typically had about a 90 percent average completion rate. The agency said it hasn't disclosed the exact percentage the agency has lagged behind as they were still compiling the numbers.

"Due to the large number of inspector-trainees replacing retired or departing inspectors, MSHA has faced challenges in completing regular safety and health inspections," said MSHA Administrator Richard Stickler. "The 100 Percent Plan will ensure that MSHA has the necessary resources to fully enforce the Mine Act."

Under the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977, only fully accredited inspectors have the authority to conduct inspections and issue citations. When inspector-trainees are hired, they must complete extensive training at the Mine Health and Safety Academy in Beckley, W.Va., in addition to fulfilling on-the-job training requirements, before becoming “Authorized Representatives.”

Since July 2006, MSHA has hired more than 273 new inspector-trainees. Once these new inspectors receive their certifications, MSHA's coal enforcement ranks will be at their highest level since 1994, the agency said.

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