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MSHA News Release No. 99-0329
Mine Safety and Health Administration
Contact: Amy Louviere
Phone: (703) 235-1452

Released Monday, March 29, 1999

MSHA Offers Penalty-Free Truck Inspections to Contractors in West Virginia

 To help combat accidents involving coal trucks operated by independent contractors, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) will offer consultative truck inspections without penalties in southern West Virginia early next month.

During the weeks of April 5-9 and April 12-16, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., independent contractor drivers are invited to bring their coal trucks to the Bridgeport Trucking Company on Cannelton Hollow Rd. (near the intersection of Rt. 60 outside of Smithers, W.Va.) for a courtesy truck inspection.

"The 30- to 40-minute safety check is designed to identify problems with brakes, air systems, drive lines and any mechanical hazards that could adversely affect truck performance," said J. Davitt McAteer, assistant labor secretary for mine safety and health. "No citations for safety violations will be issued," he said.

As part of the inspection, MSHA personnel will thoroughly explain what they are checking, show truck drivers what to include in their own pre-operational checks, discuss causes of trucker fatalities, and provide drivers with safety materials on safe truck operation and maintenance.

Since 1990, 17 mining deaths have involved coal trucks operated by independent contractors, mainly in West Virginia, Virginia and Kentucky. Most of these fatalities involved bad brakes and failure to maintain control of the truck.

The idea for penalty-free truck inspections arose during a recent series of independent contractor seminars held around the country. "While participation in the seminars was strong among other segments of the mining industry, truckers found it difficult to miss a day's haul to attend these safety seminars," said McAteer. "So, it became clear to MSHA that we needed to work harder to reach out to them."

If the program in southern West Virginia proves successful, MSHA will host additional inspections in Virginia and Kentucky at mobile stations near routes commonly traveled by coal haulage trucks.

Note to TV Stations: B-roll of a mock truck inspection held at MSHA's Mine Academy is available by calling (703) 235-1452.