Friday, February 11, 2011

Letter to the Mining Community from MSHA Assistant Secretary Joseph A. Main

To the Mining Community:

While much of the public’s attention was focused in 2010 on the tragedy at Upper Big Branch Mine that killed 29 miners, that disaster was not the only cause of mining deaths in this country in 2010. In total, 71 miners died on the job last year, compared to 34 in 2009. Forty-eight of those deaths occurred in coal mines: 29 coal miners were killed in the explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine in April and 19 additional coal miners lost their lives in other accidents. Twenty-three miners were killed at metal and nonmetal mining operations - 45 percent were contractors. Not including the Upper Big Branch-related deaths, it appears that more than half of the 42 additional miners died in accidents involving violations of the Rules to Live By standards.  In a look back over the past 10 years and excluding Upper Big Branch, these same types of fatal accidents have occurred. We must take the lessons to be learned by these fatal accidents and act on them to prevent additional fatalities.

MSHA has summary information on its website identifying causes of these mining fatalities for 2010, best practices to prevent them, posters for you to print and display in your operations, and other information on preventing fatalities in mining workplaces. Agency Fatal Investigation reports, when completed on each fatality, are available at

Fatalities are not inevitable. They can be prevented by using effective safety and health management programs in your workplaces. Workplace examinations for hazards – pre-shift and on-shift every shift – can identify and eliminate hazards that kill and injure miners. And providing effective and appropriate training will help ensure that miners better recognize and understand hazards and how to control or eliminate them. Mine operators and Part 46 and Part 48 trainers need to train miners and mine supervisors on the conditions that lead to deaths and injuries and measures to prevent and avoid them.

Mining workplaces must be made safe for miners, and operators must ensure that health and safety measures are in place to protect them. Thousands of mines do that and work year in and year out without fatalities or reporting lost-time injuries.

If you have any questions or want more information on how to prevent fatalities, injuries and illnesses in mining workplaces, visit MSHA’s website at or call your local MSHA office.

Working together, we can improve mine safety and health in our nation’s mines and send every miner home safe and healthy to friends and family after every shift, every day.


Joseph A. Main
Assistant Secretary of Labor for
Mine Safety and Health

Monday, February 7, 2011

Role of the Arizona State Mine Inspector

The Arizona State Mine Inspector can never be all things to all people, nor contain all the relevant information and value a user might be seeking on a given topic. As such, it makes great sense to leverage the power of links; this is a good way to effectively disseminate valuable and important information to the mining industry and to become a reference resource for Arizona communities and others abroad. 

Please visit for insight as to the responsibilities and duties of the Arizona State Mine Inspector. Reports are available for reviewing and educational purposes.

Inspections Program:
The mine inspector shall inspect, at least once every three months, every active underground mine in the state employing fifty or more persons, and at least once each year, every other mine. The inspector shall inspect the operation, conditions, safety appliances, machinery, equipment, sanitation and ventilation, the means of ingress and egress, the means taken to protect the lives, health and safety of the miners, the cause of accidents and deaths occurring at the mine, and the means taken to comply with provisions of this title.

Abandoned Mines Program:
Subject to legislative appropriation, the state mine inspector shall establish a program to locate, inventory, classify and eliminate public safety hazards at abandoned mines as defined in section 27-301. The state mine inspector shall spend state appropriated monies to locate, inventory, classify and eliminate public safety hazards at abandoned mines on state land first and thereafter any public safety hazards at abandoned mines on land not owned by this state.

Reclamation Program: The Reclamation Division's primary responsibility is the approval (or denial) of mined land reclamation plans submitted by all metalliferous mining units and exploration operations with surface disturbances greater than five acres on private lands. The division reviews and analyzes reclamation plans (including reclamation cost estimates), and makes recommendations to the State Mine Inspector for approval or denial of proposed plans. Other program responsibilities include the coordinated review and approval of reclamation plans with other state and federal land management agencies and on-site visits and reclamation inspections to determine compliance with the Mined Land Reclamation Act and Rules.

Mine Safety and Health Education (Miners):
The Education and Training Program certifies MSHA instructors, develops lesson plans, conducts classes, and organizes safety conferences for mine safety education and training. The emphasis is placed on miner's rights and current health and safety regulations in compliance with the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977, Title 30 CFR, Part 46, 47, 48, 49, 56, 57, 58 and 62.