MSHA Offering $1M in Safety Grants

First published by MSHA.

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration announced today the availability of up to $1 million to fund grants to support education and training to help mine workers identify, avoid and prevent unsafe working conditions.

The funding, made available by the department’s Brookwood-Sago grant program, will enable grant recipients to develop training materials, provide mine safety training or educational programs, recruit mine operators and miners for training, and conduct and evaluate training. The amount of each individual grant will be at least $50,000, and the maximum individual award will be up to $1 million.

Administered by MSHA, the 2021 selection process will include special consideration for programs that focus on powered haulage (in particular, reducing vehicle-on-vehicle collisions, increasing seat belt use and improving belt conveyor safety), improving safety among contractors, reducing electrocutions, improving training for new and inexperienced miners, mine emergency prevention and preparedness, falls from equipment, respiratory hazards and other programs to prevent unsafe conditions in mines.

MSHA will also place special emphasis on programs and materials that target miners at smaller mines, including training miners and employers about new MSHA standards, high-risk activities or hazards MSHA identifies.

Visit grants.gov to apply for the Brookwood-Sago grants. Applications must be received by May 27, 2021. MSHA will award grants on or before Sept. 30, 2021.

The Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act of 2006 established the Brookwood-Sago grant program in honor of the 25 miners who died at the Jim Walter Resources #5 mine in Brookwood, Alabama, in 2001 and at the Sago Mine in Buckhannon, West Virginia, in 2006.


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.

Mine Safety Training Grants

First published by MSHA.

US Department of Labor Announces Availability of $10.5 Million for Mine Safety Training Grants

ARLINGTON, VA – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration today announced the availability of $10,537,000 in state grant funding to provide training and retraining of miners and mine operators working at surface and underground coal and metal and nonmetal mines. The training is federally mandated.

Any state in which mining takes place may apply for the grant. MSHA may fund 80 percent of the activities under a state grant program, and the state must provide at least 20 percent of the total program costs.

The closing date for applications is May 27, 2021. MSHA will award grants on or before Sept. 30, 2021.

MSHA’s goal is to prevent fatalities, disease and injury from mining and secure safe and healthful working conditions for America’s miners. MSHA recognizes the importance of training miners and others to prevent workplace injuries, fatalities, and illnesses.

Agency Mine Safety & Health Administration

Date March 29, 2021

Release Number 21-307-NAT
Contact: Laura McGinnis
Phone Number 202-693-4653
Emailmcginnis.laura.k@dol.gov

Contact: Grant Vaught
Phone Number 202-693-4672
Emailvaught.grant.e@dol.gov


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.

MSHA – Mine Fatality #7

First published by MSHA.

MINE FATALITY – On March 12, 2021, a miner was fatally injured while attempting to insert a steel pin into a spud beam.

Accident scene where a miner was fatally injured while attempting to insert a steel pin into a spud beam.
Best Practices:
  • Always assure hoisted equipment movement has stopped and the hoist operator has set the brake before working on hoisted equipment.
  • Assure the hoist operator can see miners working on hoisted equipment.
  • Establish an effective communication protocol, which includes confirmation of instructions, between the hoist operator and miners working on hoisted equipment.
  • Position yourself in a safe location to maintain balance and protection from any energy of cantilevering tools or objects.
  • Stay in a Safe Zone when working around cables and sheave wheel systems.
  • Always maintain a work area that is clean and clear of debris.
  • Train equipment operators in the safe performance of their tasks and potential hazards.
Additional Information:

This is the seventh fatality reported in 2021, and the first classified as “Handling 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.

MSHA – Mine Fatality #5

First published by MSHA.

MINE FATALITY – On Feb. 25, 2021, a 26-year old plant operator died after entering a cyclone discharge box.  The local fire department recovered the victim lodged in an 18-inch wide discharge pipe that was full of water.

Accident scene where a 26-year old plant operator died after entering a cyclone discharge box.
Best Practices:
  • Wear a fall protection harness, properly tie off to a permanent support structure, and attach a lifeline when entering a bin or other confined space.  Have a second person monitor the lifeline to make sure there is no slack in the fall protection system.
  • Use personnel lifts or ladders to safely access elevated work areas.
  • Always use fall protection when there’s a potential fall hazard.
  • Examine work areas and equipment.  Report defects and do not use unsafe work equipment.
  • Assess risks and hazards before beginning maintenance activities.
  • Train miners to safely perform their tasks and properly use their personal protective equipment.
Additional Information:

This is the fifth fatality reported in 2021, and the first classified as “Slip or Fall of Person.”


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.

MSHA: Deaths among coal miners reach ‘historic low’ in 2020

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

Arlington, VA — Twenty-nine miners died on the job in 2020, marking the sixth straight year the annual total has remained below 30, the Mine Safety and Health Administration announced Jan. 13.

Although last year’s fatality total represents a 7.4% increase from the 2019 total of 27, MSHA reports that coal miners represented five of the 2020 deaths – “a historic low.”

Additionally, no seat belt-related deaths were recorded for the first time in MSHA’s 44-year history. The agency also reported all-time-low average concentrations of respirable dust and respirable quartz in underground coal mines, as well as dust and quartz exposure for miners at the highest risk of overexposure to respirable dust.

MSHA credits a diverse educational campaign as a contributing factor for a significant decrease in miner deaths related to powered haulage. Such fatalities represented 21% of the overall total in 2020 after accounting for about half of all fatalities in 2017 and 2018.

In 2020, MSHA “focused on improving safety in several areas, including falls from height and truck-loading operations,” administrator David Zatezalo said in a press release. “We also focused on chronic problem areas such as disproportionate accidents among contractors and inexperienced miners. In 2019, contractor deaths accounted for 41% of deaths at mines. In 2020, they were 28%.”

According to MSHA, about 230,000 miners work in approximately 11,500 metal/nonmetal mines nationwide, while around 64,000 work in about 1,000 U.S. coal mines.


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.

DOL OIG recommends MSHA lower exposure limit for silica

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

Washington — The Department of Labor Office of Inspector General is advising the Mine Safety and Health Administration to lower its legal exposure limit for silica, among other recommendations, in a report released Nov. 16.

MSHA’s silica exposure limit of 100 micrograms per cubic meter of air was established more than 50 years ago and is out of date, the report states. OSHA has since lowered its silica exposure limit to 50 micrograms per cubic meter, but “both OSHA and NIOSH warned that 50 μg/m³ is the lowest feasible limit, not the safest.”

A recent increase in progressive massive fibrosis – the most severe form of black lung disease – has been linked to “high-volume mechanized mining of decreasing deposits of coal, which releases more silica dust,” the report notes. More than three times as many coal miners were identified as having black lung disease from 2010 to 2014, compared with 1995 to 1999.

“The evidence indicates respirable crystalline silica may be responsible for this increase,” DOL OIG says.

DOL OIG also recommends that MSHA establish a separate standard to allow the agency to issue citations and monetary penalties for silica exposure limit violations. Further, it advises MSHA to increase the frequency of inspector samples “where needed” to enhance its sampling program. One example is by implementing a risk-based approach.

In a response dated Oct. 27, MSHA administrator David Zatezalo wrote that his agency does not agree with the recommendations of lowering the silica exposure limit or penalizing operators solely for exposure violations. He added that MSHA plans to issue a proposed rule on exposure to respirable quartz – one of the most common types of respirable crystalline silica.

Zatezalo said the agency will study DOL OIG’s final recommendation, including the risk-based approach, to see if sampling needs to increase under certain mining conditions.


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.

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

Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) | Protecting Miners' Safety and Health Since 1978
Photo property of MSHA.gov

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.

No changes to training requirements for refuge alternatives in coal mines, MSHA says

coal-mining.jpg

Photo: JodiJacobson/iStockphoto

Washington — The Mine Safety and Health Administration has determined that the annual training requirements outlined in its Refuge Alternatives for Underground Coal Mines rule supply “an experience sufficient to enable miners to apply their knowledge, other training and available written instruction to effectively use the refuge alternative in an emergency.”

After multiple reopenings of the record and extensions of the comment period, MSHA announced in a notice published in the July 10 Federal Register that the rule – finalized in December 2008 and effective in March 2009 – “remains in effect without change.”

In 2009, United Mine Workers of America challenged the rule in a lawsuit filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, citing NIOSH research in support of its push for quarterly training to better protect miners.

The court remanded the rule but didn’t vacate it, directing the agency to “explain the basis for the training frequency provision from the existing record or to reopen the record and allow additional public comment if needed.”

After reopening the record, MSHA received three public comments, including two in support of retaining the existing rule. The agency states in the notice that the rule’s approach is consistent with mandates in West Virginia, the lone state that specifies training for refuge alternative deployment requirements. It added, “MSHA concludes that annual motor-task (hands-on), decision-making and expectations training, supplemented by existing mandated quarterly review of deployment and use procedures, as well as existing mandated quarterly evacuation training and quarterly evacuation drills with review of a mine’s evacuation plan, which include discussion of emergency scenarios and options for escape and refuge, will prepare miners to deploy and use refuge alternatives appropriately and effectively in an emergency.”


McCraren Compliance sees the solution in our people. We are developing each person into a safety leader by recognizing and valuing them as humans and teaching them to do the same with their co-workers. We are creating workplaces where we all watch out for each other.

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

MSHA cancels clarification letter on escapeway requirements for underground mines

mine-underground.jpg

Photo: ewg3D/iStockphoto

Washington — After weighing public and stakeholder input, the Mine Safety and Health Administration has rescinded a program policy letter intended to clarify requirements for providing emergency escapeways for underground metal and nonmetal miners, determining that the clarification “is not needed.”

According to a notice published in the May 27 Federal Register, MSHA made its decision after considering comments on the letter – initially published in the July 29 Federal Register – and feedback received during an Oct. 10 public stakeholder meeting.

The agency states that under 30 CFR 57.11050:

  • “Every mine shall have two or more separate, properly maintained escapeways to the surface from the lowest levels which are so positioned that damage to one shall not lessen the effectiveness of the others. A method of refuge shall be provided while a second opening to the surface is being developed. A second escapeway is recommended, but not required, during the exploration or development of an ore body.”
  • “A method of refuge shall be provided” for miners to safely take shelter in the event they are unable to access the areas “when using the normal exit method.”

The letter notes that the refuge site “should be located near the miners so that they promptly and reliably” can enter, and encourages mine operators to confer with MSHA district managers on mine-specific conditions and factors when determining escape and evacuation plans

Worker deaths prompt MSHA safety alert about welds on aerial lifts

Washington — In response to several fatalities resulting from damaged or defective welds on aerial lifts, the Mine Safety and Health Administration has issued a safety alert.

Published March 23, the alert details an incident in which a weld splice on the repaired arm of a lift fractured because of poor weld quality, killing a mechanic on board. In another incident, a welder died when a lift arm “catastrophically fractured at a critical weld connecting the arm support to its lift cylinder.” In this case, cracks in the weld and the surrounding metal went undetected.

MSHA provides several best practices to help avoid similar tragedies:

  • Use only qualified welders to perform all welding.
  • Inspect all welds after installation and repairs, and perform periodic inspections on welds during an aerial lift’s service life.
  • Consult with manufacturers to determine service/fatigue life of mechanical systems or parts.
  • Educate users on proper lift operations, including how to avoid exceeding “design capacity.”
  • Perform routine examinations of metal components for signs of weakness, corrosion, fatigue cracks, bends, buckling or missing connectors, etc.
  • Use nondestructive test methods to detect cracks that might be indistinguishable to the human eye.
  • Remove cracked mechanical components from service immediately.

“Small cracks can quickly grow and lead to catastrophic fracture,” the alert warns.