MSHA: ‘No changes are necessary’ to criteria for certifying coal mine rescue teams

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Photo: sakakawea7/iStockphoto

Arlington, VA — Criteria for the certification of coal mine rescue teams will “remain in effect, without changes,” the Mine Safety and Health Administration announced Sept. 1, after completing a requisite review under the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response (MINER) Act of 2006.

MSHA revised the guidelines of the MINER Act in December 2013. Certification criteria for mine rescue teams outlined under Title 30 CFR Part 49.50 state that members must:

  • Receive proper annual training.
  • Be familiar with the operations of each covered mine.
  • Participate in at least two local mine rescue contests each year.
  • Complete mine rescue training at each covered mine.
  • Be knowledgeable about the operations and ventilation of each covered mine.

The MINER Act requires MSHA to review the certification criteria every five years.

“After a review of these criteria, MSHA has determined that these criteria are still appropriate and that no changes are necessary,” the agency states.


McCraren Compliance assists employers in protecting their workers, starting with a comprehensive Work-site Analysis, Hazard Prevention, Controls, and Safety & Health Training.

Please contact us today at 888-758-4757 to learn how we can provide mine safety training and consulting for your business.

Speeding most cited violation during Operation Safe Driver Week

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Greenbelt, MD — Law enforcement officials issued more than 71,000 citations and warnings to drivers during the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s annual Operation Safe Driver Week.

From July 12 to July 18, law enforcement officials throughout the United States and Canada were on the lookout for commercial and passenger vehicle drivers engaging in unsafe behaviors such as following too closely, not wearing a seat belt and distracted driving, while placing added emphasis on speeding, CVSA states in a Sept. 2 press release.

Citations and warnings related to speeding were most common among both groups of drivers. Commercial motor vehicle drivers received 2,339 citations and 3,423 warnings for speeding, while passenger drivers accounted for 14,378 citations and 11,456 warnings.

Rounding out the top five citations issued to CMV drivers: failure to wear a seat belt (1,003), failure to obey a traffic control device (617), texting or using a handheld phone (269), and improper lane change (122).

The next most common citations issued to passenger vehicle drivers were failure to wear a seat belt (932), possession/use/under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs (452), failure to obey a traffic control device (399), and improper lane change (273).

“Although CVSA is a commercial motor vehicle safety organization, it was important that passenger vehicle drivers were also involved in this annual weeklong driver safety enforcement initiative,” CVSA President John Samis said in the release. “When commercial motor vehicles and passenger vehicles collide, no matter who was at fault, the results can be catastrophic, especially for the smaller and lighter passenger vehicle. Preventing crashes from happening requires every driver – commercial and personal – to be aware of how to safely share the road with other types of vehicles.”

The rate of motor vehicle-related deaths jumped 20% in the first half of the year compared with the same period in 2019 – despite a 17% drop in the number of miles driven – according to preliminary estimates released Sept. 15 by the National Safety Council.


McCraren Compliance can help you understand and comply with FMCSA, DOT and ADOT and ensure your drivers and your vehicles operate safely and efficiently.

Call us Today at 888-758-4757 or email us at info@mccrarencompliance.com to schedule your free FMCSA Compliance Assessment

Cranes and derricks in railroad roadway work: OSHA clarifies final rule; lists exemptions

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Photo: Washington State Dept. of Transportation

Washington — OSHA is providing specific exemptions and clarifications for railroad roadway work in its Cranes and Derricks in Construction Standard.

According to a final rule published in the Sept. 15 Federal Register, the exemptions and clarifications are intended to “recognize the unique equipment and circumstances in railroad roadway work,” as well as reflect the preemption of OSHA requirements by Federal Railroad Administration regulations, including those for the safe operation of railroad roadway maintenance machines that have cranes or other hoisting devices.

Some of the exemptions apply to flash-butt welding trucks, the use of rail stops and rail clamps, dragging a load sideways, out-of-level work, and boom-hoist limiting devices for hydraulic cylinder-equipped booms. Operator training and certification will follow FRA regulations, OSHA states in a Sept. 14 press release.

This rulemaking culminates a 10-year period that began when the Association of American Railroads and a number of individual railroads filed a petition challenging the Cranes and Derricks in Construction Standard – published in August 2010.

OSHA published a notice of proposed rulemaking in July 2018 after reaching a settlement agreement with those organizations. Nearly a year later, FRA informed OSHA that it intended to preempt many of the requirements in the NPRM.

OSHA states in the rule that “Although any exemption from OSHA requirements resulting from the preemption of OSHA statutory authority by FRA would apply whether or not the OSHA regulations include any specific exemptions, OSHA believes it is still appropriate to amend the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) to include the explicit exemptions for RMMs in the OSHA crane standard. Having the exemptions specified in the OSHA crane standard will provide additional clarity for employers in the railroad industry, including contractors, who may be unfamiliar with the legal implications of FRA’s action.”

The rule is scheduled to go into effect Nov. 16.


McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

Working near belt conveyors: Recent deaths spur MSHA safety alert

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Photo: BulentBARIS/iStockphoto

Arlington, VA — Spurred by numerous fatalities related to the hazards of working near belt conveyors, the Mine Safety and Health Administration has issued a safety alert.

Published on Sept. 3, the alert states that eight fatalities involving belt conveyors have occurred in the industry since Jan. 26, 2017. Six involved miners working near a moving conveyor, and two occurred during maintenance on an idle conveyor.

“All of these fatalities could have been prevented with proper lockout/tagout and blocking against motion before working,” the alert states.

MSHA details the most recent incident, which occurred in December and remains under investigation. A miner was fatally injured after removing a splice pin from a mainline conveyor that was caught between the belt and frame of the belt tailpiece.

The agency lists multiple best practices for working safely near belt conveyors, including:

  • Identify, isolate and control stored mechanical, electrical, hydraulic and gravitational energy.
  • Effectively block the belt conveyor to prevent movement in either direction.
  • Relieve belt tension by releasing energy at the take up/belt storage system. Remember: Some tensile energy might still exist.
  • Position belt splice in an area of safe access to avoid pinch points.
  • De-energize electrical power, and lock and tag the main disconnect before beginning maintenance. Permit only the person who installed a lock and tag to remove them – and only after completing the work.
  • Never lock out start and stop controls or belt switches, as they don’t disconnect power conductors.

 


McCraren Compliance assists employers in protecting their workers, starting with a comprehensive Work-site Analysis, Hazard Prevention, Controls, and Safety & Health Training.

Please contact us today at 888-758-4757 to learn how we can provide mine safety training and consulting for your business.


‘Soaring rate of deaths’: Motor vehicle fatality rate surges in first half of 2020

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Photo: eyecrave/iStockphoto

Itasca, IL — The rate of motor vehicle-related deaths jumped 20% in the first half of the year compared with the same period in 2019, according to preliminary estimates released by the National Safety Council.

The spike in the rate – an indicator of how safe the nation’s roads are – comes despite a 17% drop in the number of miles driven over the course of the six months, NSC states in a Sept. 15 press release. The estimated total number of deaths, meanwhile, was up 1% from the first-half total of last year.

The 20% increase is the largest jump the council has calculated for a six-month period since 1999.

“Because of COVID-19 and states’ shelter-in-place orders earlier this year, the country should have reaped a safety benefit from less traffic,” NSC President and CEO Lorraine M. Martin said in the release. “Instead, our soaring rate of deaths speaks to our need to improve safety on our roads. Clearly, we must work harder as a society to reverse this trend, especially since the pandemic is not nearly over.”

To help ensure roadway safety, the council is urging drivers to:

  • Obey speed limits, even if roads are clear and traffic is light.
  • Practice defensive driving. Buckle up; designate a sober driver or arrange alternative transportation; get plenty of sleep to avoid fatigue; and drive attentively, avoiding distractions.
  • If you have a teen driver, stay engaged and practice with him or her often – tips are available at DriveitHOME.org.
  • Follow state and local directives, and stay off the roads if officials have directed you do to so.
  • Be aware of increased pedestrian and bicycle traffic, particularly in urban areas. Conversely, pedestrians and bicyclists should remember that streets are getting congested again, and vulnerable roadway users need to be careful.
  • Encourage your employer to join the Road to Zero Coalition, a 1,500-member group committed to eliminating roadway deaths by 2050.

McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

U.S. Department of Labor Issues COVID-Related Citations


McCraren Compliance assists employers in protecting their workers, starting with a comprehensive Work-site Analysis, Hazard Prevention, Controls, and Safety & Health Training.

Please contact us today at 888-758-4757 to learn how we can provide mine safety training and consulting for your business.

MSHA – Mine Fatality #13

MINE FATALITY – On August 18, 2020, a miner was killed while attempting to clear a material blockage. The miner entered the cone crusher to begin work when the material shifted and engulfed him.  He was extracted from the crusher and taken to a hospital, where he died the next day.

accident scene where the victim was extracted from the crusher and taken to a hospital, where he died the next day
Best Practices:
  • Properly design chutes and crushers to prevent blockages. Install a heavy screen (grizzly) to control the size of material and prevent clogging.
  • Equip chutes with mechanical devices such as vibrating shakers or air cannons to loosen blockages, or provide other effective means of handling material, so miners are not exposed to entrapment hazards by falling or sliding material.
  • Establish and discuss policies and procedures for safely clearing crushers.
  • Train miners to recognize and safely remove all potential hazards before beginning work and when clearing blocked crushers.
Additional Information:

This is the 13th fatality reported in 2020, and the second classified as “Fall of Material.”


McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

National Safety Stand-Down To Prevent Falls in Construction

National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls

OSHA has resources for raising awareness and training workers about fall prevention during the National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls to keep workers safe.

Fatalities caused by falls from elevation continue to be a leading cause of death for construction employees, accounting for 320 of the 1,008 construction fatalities recorded in 2018 (BLS data). Those deaths were preventable. The National Safety Stand-Down raises fall hazard awareness across the country in an effort to stop fall fatalities and injuries.

What is a Safety Stand-Down?

A Safety Stand-Down is a voluntary event for employers to talk directly to employees about safety. Any workplace can hold a stand-down by taking a break to focus on “Fall Hazards” and reinforcing the importance of “Fall Prevention”. Employers of companies not exposed to fall hazards, can also use this opportunity to have a conversation with employees about the other job hazards they face, protective methods, and the company’s safety policies and goals. It can also be an opportunity for employees to talk to management about fall and other job hazards they see.

Who Can Participate?

Anyone who wants to prevent hazards in the workplace can participate in the Stand-Down. In past years, participants included commercial construction companies of all sizes, residential construction contractors, sub- and independent contractors, highway construction companies, general industry employers, the U.S. Military, other government participants, unions, employer’s trade associations, institutes, employee interest organizations, and safety equipment manufacturers.

Partners

OSHA is partnering with key groups to assist with this effort, including the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA), OSHA approved State Plans, State consultation programs, the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR), the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP), the National Safety Council, the National Construction Safety Executives (NCSE), the U.S. Air Force, and the OSHA Training Institute (OTI) Education Centers. Read More»


McCraren Compliance assists employers in protecting their workers, starting with a comprehensive Work-site Analysis, Hazard Prevention, Controls, and Safety & Health Training.

Please contact us today at 888-758-4757 to learn how we can provide mine safety training and consulting for your business.

FMCSA proposes pilot program to allow drivers under 21 to operate CMVs interstate

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Photo: WendellandCarolyn/iStockphoto

Washington — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is seeking public comment on a proposed pilot program that would allow drivers ages 18 to 20 to operate commercial motor vehicles interstate.

Forty-nine states and the District of Columbia permit drivers as young as 18 to obtain a commercial driver’s license for intrastate travel, with Hawaii the lone exception.

The pilot program would establish an apprenticeship program for CDL holders younger than 21, requiring apprentices to complete two probationary periods totaling 400 hours. Additionally, 19- and 20-year-old drivers who have operated CMVs in intrastate commerce for at least one year and 25,000 miles are eligible to participate. According to FMCSA, the program would prohibit drivers from hauling passengers and hazardous materials or operating special configuration vehicles, including cargo tanks.

“This action will allow the agency to carefully examine the safety, feasibility and possible economic benefits of allowing 18- to 20-year-old drivers to operate in interstate commerce,” FMCSA acting administrator Wiley Deck said in a Sept. 4 press release. “Safety is always FMCSA’s top priority, so we encourage drivers, motor carriers and interested citizens to review this proposed new pilot program and share their thoughts and opinions.”

In February, the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee’s Transportation and Safety Subcommittee conducted a hearing to explore safety concerns regarding younger CMV drivers, among other industry issues.

FMCSA in May 2019 requested public comment on a proposal to allow 18- to 20-year-olds to operate CMVs in interstate commerce. According to the agency, 1,118 comments were received, with 504 favoring the proposal, 486 in opposition, and various other comments providing “conditional support” or offering additional suggestions.

American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear was among the proposal’s early supporters.

“This is a significant step toward improving safety on our nation’s roads, setting a standard for these drivers that is well beyond what 49 states currently require,” Spear said in a Sept. 4 press release. “This is an amazing block of talent with unlimited potential. If our freedom can be defended from tyranny around the world by our men and women in uniform, many well below the age of 21, then it’s quite clear that we can train that same group how to safely and responsibly cross state lines in a commercial vehicle.”

ATA Chairman Randy Guillot suggests in the release that the proposal could offer a gateway to connect with potential new drivers, putting the industry “in a better position to bring in a new generation of valuable talent.”

Several groups – including the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, Governors Highway Safety Association, and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety – are expressing opposition to the proposed program.

In an article published Sept. 4 in OOIDA’s Land Line magazine, OOIDA Director of Federal Affairs Jay Grimes asserts that the program “will no doubt lead to more crashes, injuries and fatalities involving large trucks,” citing longstanding data showing higher incident rates among 18- to 20-year-old drivers.

“OOIDA also fears that younger drivers will be subject to inadequate working conditions and be used to maintain a cheap labor supply that will only result in higher driver turnover rates rather than long-term careers in the industry,” Grimes said. “We believe the agency should be working to reverse the increasing trend of crashes and promoting policies that help make trucking a rewarding, sustainable profession. This pilot program accomplishes neither of those objectives.”

Comments on the program are due by Nov. 9.


McCraren Compliance can help you understand and comply with FMCSA, DOT and ADOT and ensure your drivers and your vehicles operate safely and efficiently.

Call us Today at 888-758-4757 or email us at info@mccrarencompliance.com to schedule your free FMCSA Compliance Assessment

COVID-19 pandemic: ‘More action is needed’ from MSHA, DOL inspector says

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Photo: davidmariuz/iStockphoto

Washington — Although the Mine Safety and Health Administration has taken steps to protect workers in the mining industry during the COVID-19 pandemic, “more action is needed” from the agency as evolving challenges mount, the Department of Labor Office of Inspector General concludes in an audit report.

Released July 24, the report resulted from a DOL OIG analysis of MSHA guidance, various states’ executive orders and other related documents, as well as an assessment of interviews with MSHA officials and union representatives.

DOL OIG issued two recommendations to MSHA:

  • Monitor the potential backlog of suspended and reduced enforcement activities and develop a plan to manage the backlog once full operations resume.
  • Monitor COVID-19 outbreaks at mines and use that information to reevaluate the agency’s decision not to issue an emergency temporary standard related to COVID-19.

MSHA administrator David Zatezalo states in a written response to the audit report that he agrees with the recommendations and notes that “MSHA currently does not have a backlog of statutorily mandated enforcement activities and the agency anticipates meeting such requirements for [fiscal year] 2020.”

webpage detailing the agency’s response to the pandemic states that “MSHA will continue to perform its essential functions, including mandatory inspections, serious accident investigations and investigations of hazard complaints (imminent danger or serious in nature).” However, DOL OIG reports that the agency, as of May, has suspended five categories of enforcement actions – including its incident reduction program – while seriously reducing activity in 13 other categories.

Additionally, about 100 of 750 agency inspectors self-identified as high risk for severe complications from COVID-19, DOL OIG reports, prompting them to work remotely or take leave. Although this measure accounts for these inspectors’ safety and health, it may contribute to putting miners at increased risk because the remaining inspectors “must work overtime to cover those gaps” while identifying potential hazards.

MSHA has released voluntary guidelines intended to protect miners during the pandemic, but the agency “is facing considerable pressure from mining unions, Congress, and others to exercise its authority and issue an emergency temporary standard,” the report states.

In May, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) introduced bipartisan legislation that would require MSHA to issue within seven days of enactment an emergency temporary standard to help protect mine workers from exposure to COVID-19, followed by a final rule. At press time, the COVID-19 Mine Worker Protection Act (S. 3710) remained in the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.

One month after the bill was introduced, the United Mine Workers of America and the United Steelworkers filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit a joint emergency petition against the Department of Labor and MSHA as a measure to compel the agency to issue an emergency temporary standard on infectious diseases.

“The noted legislation has not yet been enacted and the petition before the U.S. Court of Appeals is pending,” the report states. “MSHA leadership told us it does not intend to issue an emergency temporary standard for COVID-19 until it determines the need arises.”


McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.