Department of Labor Inspections at 16 U.S. Mines Resulted in 247 Safety Violations

January 31, 2024

There were 247 violations issued by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration after inspections at 16 mines in 11 states in December 2023, the department reported.

The department began conducting inspections after a 2010 explosion in West Virginia at the Upper Big Branch Mine killed 29 miners.

MSHA’s inspections in 2023 reportedly identified 2,739 violations, including 764 significant and substantial and 56 unwarrantable failure findings. A significant and substantial violation is considered to be one that is reasonably likely to cause a reasonably serious injury or illness. Violations designated as unwarrantable failures are those in which an inspector finds aggravated conduct that constitutes more than ordinary negligence.

The department conducts impact inspections at mines that merit increased attention and enforcement due to poor compliance history; previous accidents, injuries, and illnesses; and other compliance concerns.

Of the 247 violations MSHA identified in December, 57 were evaluated as significant and substantial, and three had unwarrantable failure findings. The department completed the inspections at mines in Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

The Excel #5 Mine, an underground coal mine in Varney, Kentucky, was among the mines MSHA inspected in December.

MSHA selected the mine for an inspection based upon numerous criteria, including a reported enforcement history and plan compliance and examination issues. The inspection reportedly identified 20 violations, including nine that were considered significant and substantial and two unwarrantable failure findings.

MSHA inspectors reported the following conditions at the Excel #5 mine:

  • Failure to remove accumulation of combustible material, which was the most cited condition during the inspection.
  • Failure to maintain equipment in permissible condition was the second-most frequently cited condition during the inspection.
  • Inadequate workplace examinations.
  • Other serious violations included not adequately supporting roof and ribs and inoperable fire warning devices.

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