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Joseph A. Main - Assistant Secretary of Labor  for Mine Safety and Health I am pleased to announce a major initiative called "Rules to Live By", aimed at improving safety and health and preventing fatalities and serious accidents in America's mines.  Through a first phase of industry outreach and education followed by enhanced enforcement beginning on March 15, the focus will be on 24 frequently cited standards (11 in coal mining and 13 in metal/nonmetal mining) whose violations have caused or contributed to nearly half the fatal accidents in the mining industry since 2000..  The goal of "Rules to Live By" is to reduce deaths and injuries from the targeted standards by having mine operators identify and correct all hazardous conditions and to have MSHA enforcement be directed toward confirming that violations related to these conditions are not present at mines. 


In 2009, mining fatalities fell to an all-time low for the second straight year - this is a testament to the commitment of miners, mine operators, miners' representatives, labor and industry organizations, state grantees, members of the mining community, and MSHA personnel.  While the mining community achieved a record low number of mining deaths in the United States and has seen a significant decline in fatal mining accidents during the past 10 years, too many miners still lose their lives in preventable accidents.  The loss of even one miner causes devastation and pain to the victim's family, friends and co-workers. Between 2000 - 2008, 589 miners lost their lives, mostly in single and double fatality accidents.  MSHA analyzed these fatal accidents to identify conditions and practices that contributed to the 589 deaths, safety standards violated, root causes, and abatement practices.  MSHA's analysis identified 24 standards - 11 in coal mining and 13 in metal and nonmetal mining - frequently cited in fatal accident investigations.  These violations fell into 9 different accident categories:


            Falls from Elevation

            Falls of Roof and Rib

            Operating Mobile Equipment (Surface)

            Operating Mobile Equipment (Underground)


            Lock and Tag Out

            Struck by Mobile Equipment (Surface)

            Struck by Mobile Equipment (Underground)

            Blocking Against Motion


The 24 priority standards and conditions for focused enforcement are:


MNM Priority Standards: Conditions for Focused Enforcement


  56.9101   - Operating speeds and control of equipment

Condition(s) leading to fatalities:

            Equipment operator not maintaining control of equipment while in motion.

            Operating speeds not consistent with the conditions.


  56.12017 - Work on power circuits

Condition(s) leading to fatalities:

            Power circuits not de-energized before working on circuits.

            Switches not locked out or other measures taken to prevent power circuits from being energized without knowledge of individuals working on them.  


  56.14101(a) (includes all subparts) - Brake performance

Type of condition(s) leading to fatalities:

            Service brakes not capable of stopping and holding equipment with its typical load on maximum grade it travels.

            Parking brakes not capable of holding equipment with its typical load on maximum grade it travels.

            A brake system component not maintained in a functional condition.


  56.14105 - Procedures during repairs or maintenance

Condition(s) leading to fatalities:

            Machinery or equipment not blocked against motion during repairs or maintenance.

            Equipment not effectively de-energized.

            Persons not protected against hazardous motion during testing or adjustments.

  56.14130(g) - Seat belts shall be worn by equipment operators

Condition(s) leading to fatalities:

            Failure to wear seatbelts while operating mobile equipment.


  56.14131(a) - Seat belts shall be provided and worn in haul trucks

Condition(s) leading to fatalities:

            Seatbelts not worn when operating or riding in haul truck.


  56.14205 - Machinery, equipment, and tools used beyond design

Condition(s) leading to fatalities:

            Using machinery, equipment, or tools beyond design capacity intended by manufacturer.


  56.14207 - Parking procedures for unattended equipment

Condition(s) leading to fatalities:

            Mobile equipment left unattended and controls not placed in park position.

            Provided parking brake not set.

            Mobile equipment parked on grade and wheels/ tracks not chocked or turned into a bank.


  56.15005 - Safety belts and lines

Condition(s) leading to fatalities:

            Persons not wearing fall protection when exposed to fall hazard.


  56.16002(c) - Bins, hoppers, silos, tanks, and surge piles

Condition(s) leading to fatalities:

            Persons entering bins, tanks, hoppers or surge piles not wearing fall protection where there is fall hazard.

            A second person not provided to tend lifeline.

            Persons entering bins and hoppers when flow of materials has not ceased and/or supply and discharge equipment not locked out.

            Safe access in and around working areas not provided.


  56.16009 - Persons shall stay clear of suspended loads

Condition(s) leading to fatalities:

            Persons failing to stay clear of suspended loads.


  56.20011 - Barricades and warning signs

Condition(s) leading to fatalities:

            Barricades or warning signs not posted at all approaches where health or safety hazards exist that are not immediately obvious.


  57.3360 - Ground support use

Condition(s) leading to fatalities:

            Necessary ground support not designed, installed, and maintained in areas where persons work or travel.



Coal Priority Standards:  Conditions for Focused Enforcement


  75.202 (includes all subparts) - Roof, face, and ribs shall be supported and no person shall work or travel under unsupported roof

Condition(s) leading to fatalities:

            Work or travel under/ by unsupported roof or rib.

            Incompetent roof and ribs not scaled down.

            Additional roof support not provided.


  75.220(a)(1) - Develop and follow approved roof control plan

Condition(s) leading to fatalities:

            Failure to install supplemental support or take additional measures when adverse roof conditions are encountered.

            Body positioning prohibited by plan.

            Unsafe pillar recovery identified.

            Excessive cut depth (deeper than approved cut depth in plan) identified.

            Excessive roof bolt spacing (use PIL No. 108-V-7 for guidance) identified.

            Visible warning devices not provided.

            Wide entries identified.


  75.511 - No electrical work shall be performed on energized low, medium, or high-voltage   distribution circuits or equipment

Condition(s) leading to fatalities:

            Electrical work performed by non-qualified person.

            Failure to lock out and tag disconnecting devices prior to performing electrical work.


  75.1403-10(i) - Off-track haulage roadways shall be maintained–

Condition(s) leading to fatalities:

            Haulage roadways not maintained free of bottom irregularities, debris and wet, muddy conditions.


  75.1725(a) - Equipment shall be maintained in safe operating condition or removed from service

Condition(s) leading to fatalities:

            Mobile and stationary machinery and equipment not maintained in safe operating condition:

            Remote control tram interlocks are taped up or otherwise disarmed.

            Operating controls have been altered or stick unintentionally.

            Safety interlocks on mobile bridge conveyors defective or fouled with debris.

            Operator compartment doors or shields removed.


  75.1725(c) - No repairs until power off and blocked

Condition(s) leading to fatalities:

            Repairs or maintenance performed on machinery without removing power.

            Machinery not blocked against hazardous motion.

            Hydraulic repairs conducted on pressurized hoses and fittings


  77.404(c) - No repairs or maintenance shall be performed until the power is off and     machinery is blocked

Condition(s) leading to fatalities:

            Repairs or maintenance performed with power on.

            Machinery not blocked against motion.


  77.1607(g) - All persons shall be clear before starting or moving equipment

Condition(s) leading to fatalities:

            Failure to ensure that all persons are clear before starting or moving equipment.



  77.1607(n) - Mobile equipment shall not be left unattended unless brakes are set, ––––––––––––––    –  chocked–

Condition(s) leading to fatalities:

            Brakes not set on unattended mobile equipment.

            Wheels on mobile equipment not blocked or turned into bank/ berm when parked on grade.


  77.1710(g) - Safety belts and lines shall be used where there is a danger of falling

Condition(s) leading to fatalities:

            Failure to wear fall protection where danger of falling.


  77.1710(i) - Seatbelts shall be worn in a vehicle where there is a danger of overturning and where roll protection is provided

Condition(s) leading to fatalities:

            Failure to wear seatbelts.

All of us - MSHA, mine operators, miners, independent contractors, and miners' representatives must focus on why these accidents happen and how to prevent them.  As part of MSHA's outreach, the agency will provide operators program and resource information.  MSHA will also reach out to engage miners and miners' representatives during the course of MSHA inspections in the prevention of injuries and fatalities.  This includes dissemination of appropriate compliance assistance materials such as engineering suggestions, safety target materials packages, and other information resources to ensure that mine operators and miners have information available to address and eliminate workplace hazards

Beginning March 15, MSHA will also focus more attention and enforcement activity on these 24 standards and accident categories with enhanced enforcement, increased scrutiny for violations of these standards, and instructions to inspectors to carefully evaluate gravity and negligence, consistent with the seriousness of the violation, when citing violations of standards that cause or contribute to mining fatalities.

Compliance with safety and health standards is the responsibility of mine operators.  While MSHA supports education and outreach efforts to assist the mining industry in improving mine safety and health, MSHA is charged with ensuring consistent and strict compliance with safety and health standards, and expects operators to foster a culture of zero tolerance for violations in their operations, including violations by independent contractors. 

Please visit MSHA's "Rules to Live By" single-source web page for detailed information.

One death is too many.  Working together, we can end fatalities in the nation's mines.



Prevent Fatalities - Rules to Live By