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Performance Coal Company

Review of MSHA's Actions
at the
Upper Big Branch Mine-South
Performance Coal Company
Montcoal,
Raleigh County,
West Virginia


MSHA committed to a number of corrective actions in response to the recommendations of MSHA's Internal Review Report into the agency's actions in the months preceding the explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine on April 5, 2010. As of December 31, 2013, MSHA has addressed all of the recommendations, and the tables below, along with a narrative of the Assistant Secretarys corrective actions, list the corrective actions that have been taken. A list of all recommendations, the corrective actions and the completion date for each corrective action can be found in Appendix A of the Internal Review Report and the Addition to Appendix A.

Corrective Action Plan: Upper Big Branch Mine-South Internal Review

Jump to MSHA's Corrective Actions:   - September 30, 2013   - June 30, 2013    - March 31, 2013   - June 26, 2012
                                                                - September 30, 2012    - December 31, 2012
Jump to MSHA Assistant Secretary's Corrective Actions: - December 31, 2013   - March 31, 2013    - September 30, 2012

MSHA Program Areas' Corrective Actions (As of December 31, 2013)

Recommendation Date Due Status Corrective Action Taken
The Administrator for Coal should direct the revision of the Program Policy Manual to establish policy for determining compliance with 30 CFR 75.1725(a) as it relates to damaged or missing cutting bits, bit lugs, or bit lug inserts on continuous mining machines and longwall shearers. 12/31/2013 Completed Following up on the Assistant Secretary's instructions to the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Operations to develop a draft centralized administrative review process for Directives, the Administrator for Coal issued Program Policy Letter (PPL) No. P13-V-03 Maintenance of Cutting Bits on Continuous Mining Machines and Longwall Shearers under 30 C.F.R. 75.1725(a), which contains guidance on determining compliance as it relates to bits. The PPL clarifies that cutting coal or rock with continuous mining machines or longwall shearers with damaged or missing cutting bits is a violation of 30 CFR. 75.1725(a).

In addition, Coal revised the Program Policy Manual to establish policy for determining compliance with 30 CFR 75.1725(a) as it relates to damaged or missing cutting bits, bit lugs, or bit lug inserts on continuous mining machines and longwall shearers.
The Administrator for Coal should direct the revision of the Uniform Mine File Procedures Handbook to clarify what sections of the UMF that inspectors and specialists must review for a limited inspection as described in the Handbook. At a minimum, the roof control and ventilation plans and any other plans pertinent to that inspection should be reviewed. This revision should also clarify what constitutes a limited inspection as described in the Handbook. 12/31/2013 Completed Following up on the Assistant Secretary's instructions to the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Operations to develop a draft centralized administrative review process for Directives, Coal revised the Coal Uniform Mine File Procedures Handbook to clarify what sections of the UMF that inspectors and specialists must review for a limited inspection, which at a minimum includes a review of the roof control and ventilation plans and any other plans pertinent to that inspection. The revision also clarifies what constitutes a limited inspection.
The Administrator for Coal should direct the revision of the Coal Mine Safety and Health Supervisors Handbook to provide guidance to supervisors on methods they can use during Accompanied Activities to determine if inspectors are reviewing the mine operators examination records and using information in the records in accordance with inspection procedures. 12/31/2013 Completed Following up on the Assistant Secretary's instructions to the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Operations to develop a draft centralized administrative review process for Directives, Coal revised the Coal Mine Safety and Health Supervisors Handbook to provide guidance to supervisors on methods they can use during Accompanied Activities to determine if inspectors are reviewing the mine operators' examination records and using information in the records in accordance with inspection procedures.
The Administrator for Coal should direct the revision of the Program Policy Manual for 30 CFR 75.400-2 to clarify that the cleanup program required by this standard also applies to methods for preventing accumulations of coal and float coal dust on retreating sections, including longwalls. Policy should provide strategies for requiring operators to revise deficient cleanup programs or identify other enforcement incentives that can be used when operators fail to comply with their programs. 12/31/2013 Completed Following up on the Assistant Secretary's instructions to the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Operations to develop a draft centralized administrative review process for Directives, and in lieu of revising the Program Policy Manual, the Administrator for Coal published Program Policy Letter No. P13-V-11 "Program for Regular Cleanup and Removal of Accumulations of Coal and Float Coal Dust, Loose Coal, and Other Combustibles" to provide guidance to operators on an effective regular cleanup program required under 30 CFR. 75.400-2 and 75.402 to help prevent underground mine fires and explosions. The PPL clarifies that the cleanup program required by this standard also applies to methods for preventing accumulations of coal and float coal dust on retreating sections, including longwalls, and provides strategies for requiring operators to revise deficient cleanup programs. The PPL also identifies other enforcement incentives that can be used when operators fail to comply with their programs.
The Administrators for Coal and Metal and Nonmetal should direct the revision of their general inspection procedures handbooks to be consistent with the recommended revisions of the Program Policy Manual regarding enforcement of section 103(a). 12/31/2012































12/31/2013
Completed































Completed
Following up on the Assistant Secretarys July 21, 2010 directive regarding the evaluation of enforcement policies and procedures used by inspectors in their inspection activities, and to achieve consistency and conformity with the Program Policy Manual, Coal and Metal and Nonmetal revised their general inspection procedures handbooks regarding enforcement of section 103(a) (advance notice) and referenced the Program Policy Manual for additional guidance. When the revised handbooks go into effect, inspectors will be able to access the Program Policy Manual by links embedded in the handbooks.

The handbooks were revised by December 31, 2012 with final approval on January 29, 2013. The revised handbooks are scheduled to go into effect by April 2013 once the appropriate training, which is to include enforcement of section 103(a) on advance notice, has been conducted.

By December 31, 2013, Coal and Metal and Nonmetal will ensure that their general inspection procedures handbooks are consistent with any revisions made to the Program Policy Manual regarding enforcement of section 103(a).

Coal and Metal and Nonmetal revised section 103(a) of the Program Policy Manual to provide additional guidance on what constitutes advance notice and when violations of 103(a) of the Mine Act should be cited. The General Inspection Procedures handbooks were revised to be consistent with the recommended changes to the Program Policy guidance on the enforcement of advance notice of inspections.
The Administrators for Coal and Metal and Nonmetal should consult with the Office of the Solicitor, Mine Safety and Health Division, to revise the Program Policy Manual to address actions by operators, their agents, or their employees that constitute advance notice of inspections for the purposes of section 103(a). The Manual explicitly should instruct that section 103(a) is violated when an operator impedes an inspection by giving advance notice of MSHAs presence on mine property to outlying surface and underground facilities, regardless of whether the inspection already has commenced or whether the inspector explicitly has warned the operator against providing such notice. 6/30/2012






















12/31/2013
Completed






















Completed
To address part of this recommendation, the Administrators for Coal and Metal and Nonmetal consulted with the Office of the Solicitor on May 10, 2012. On June 12, 2012, the Administrator for Coal instructed district managers regarding advance notice for purposes of Section 103(a) of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977. On August 26, 2010, and again on November 5, 2012, the Administrator for Metal and Nonmetal instructed district managers regarding advance notice for purposes of Section 103(a) of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977.

Consistent with the Assistant Secretary's instructions to the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Operations to develop a draft centralized administrative review process for Directives, Coal will revise the Program Policy Manual to address actions that constitute advance notice of inspections.

Following up on the Assistant Secretary's instructions to the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Operations to develop a draft centralized administrative review process for Directives, Coal and Metal and Nonmetal revised the Program Policy Manual, following consultation with the Office of the Solicitor, Mine Safety and Health Division, to provide additional guidance on what constitutes advance notice and when violations of 103(a) of the Mine Act should be cited. The revised Program Policy Manual describes the actions by operators, their agents, or their employees that constitute advance notice of inspections and provides instructions on the enforcement of section 103(a) violations when an operator gives advance notice of MSHA's presence on mine property to outlying surface and underground facilities with the intent to impede an inspection, regardless of whether the inspection already has commenced or whether the inspector explicitly has warned the operator against providing such notice.
The Director of EPD should collaborate with the Administrators for Coal and Metal and Nonmetal to revise the OJT Booklet to include only practical competency skills that need to be demonstrated in the field. The National Mine Health and Safety Academy should track the academic components of entry level training; demonstration of OJT tasks should be tracked by field personnel. 12/31/2013 Completed In lieu of revising the OJT Booklet, EPD developed an electronic system, which has been in place since May 1, 2012, for tracking OJT tasks required and completed by entry-level inspectors.
The Director of EPD should collaborate with the Administrators for Coal and Metal and Nonmetal to revise the APPM to include the OJT Responsibilities guidance. 12/31/2013 Completed Following up on the Assistant Secretarys instructions to the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Operations to develop a draft centralized administrative process for directives, EPD collaborated with Coal and Metal and Nonmetal to revise the APPM to include the OJT guidelines. New Chapter 1400 was written in part to clarify the duties and responsibilities concerning OJT.
The Director of EPD should collaborate with the Administrators for Coal and Metal and Nonmetal to incorporate OJT responsibilities into journeyman inspector and supervisor training and develop and provide training for District OJT Coordinators. 12/31/2013 Completed EPD has incorporated OJT responsibility training into the current journeyman training cycle. Journeyman inspectors are receiving this training the first week of their initial 2 week scheduled journeyman retraining during the FY2013/2014 cycle.

An online training program was developed for supervisors to take upon being assigned an entry-level inspector. When an entry-level inspector is assigned to a supervisor, an email is sent instructing the supervisor to take online training. This training outlines the supervisors responsibilities for ensuring entry-level inspectors assigned to them receive OJT training.

An online training program was also developed for those persons responsible for the OJT tracking in each District. This training has been completed by those persons identified by Coal and Metal and Nonmetal.
The Administrator for Coal should direct the revision of the Coal Mine Safety and Health Supervisors Handbook to instruct managers and supervisors on methods for tracking Field Activity Reviews, Accompanied Activities, and mine visits to ensure that they are properly completed and documented. 12/31/2013 Completed Following up on the Assistant Secretary's instructions to the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Operations to develop a draft centralized administrative review process for Directives, Coal revised the Coal Mine Safety and Health Supervisors Handbook to instruct managers and supervisors on methods for tracking Field Activity Reviews, Accompanied Activities, and mine visits to ensure that they are properly completed and documented.
The Administrator for Coal should direct the revision of the Program Policy Manual to provide guidance on when it is appropriate to cite an operator for a violation of 30 CFR 75.372(a) or (b) when it fails to submit an up-to-date and complete mine ventilation map. The Administrator should also direct the revision of the Mine Ventilation Plan Approval Procedures Handbook to implement the revised policy. 12/31/2013 Completed Following up on the Assistant Secretary's instructions to the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Operations to develop a draft centralized administrative review process for Directives, Coal revised the Mine Ventilation Plan Approval Procedures Handbook to provide guidance on when it is appropriate to cite an operator for a violation of 30 CFR 75.372(a) or (b) when it fails to submit an up-to-date and complete mine ventilation map.

The Administrator for Coal considered the recommendation to revise the Program Policy Manual (PPM). However, the revised section of the Mine Ventilation Plan Approval Procedures Handbook and the requirements of section 104 of the Mine Act regarding the issuance of citations, adequately address this part of the recommendation. The PPM, according to the APPM, Volume II, Chapter 100, paragraph 111(a), "... is a compilation of MSHA's enforcement- related policies; it generally does not contain procedures." Therefore, Coal did not take action to revise the PPM.
The Administrator for Coal should direct the revision of the Mine Ventilation Plan Approval Procedures Handbook to require pertinent accident reports and technical studies to be maintained in the appropriate department active mine files to ensure that relevant historical information is available to specialists and supervisors. Consideration should also be given to including this information in the active mine file of other mines with similar seam and geological conditions. 12/31/2013 Completed Following up on the Assistant Secretary's instructions to the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Operations to develop a draft centralized administrative review process for Directives, Coal revised the Mine Ventilation Plan Approval Procedures Handbook to require pertinent accident reports and technical studies to be maintained in the appropriate department active mine files to ensure that relevant historical information is available to specialists and supervisors.

The Administrator for Coal considered the recommendation to include pertinent accident reports and technical studies in active mine files of other mines with similar seam and geological conditions. MSHA Technical Support established and will maintain a repository of technical studies that is searchable by mine identification number and coal seam. This repository is accessible to Coal and other MSHA personnel.
The Administrator for Coal should direct the revision of the Uniform Mine File Procedures Handbook to require pertinent accident reports and technical studies to be maintained in the Uniform Mine File for the subject mine. 12/31/2013 Completed Following up on the Assistant Secretary's instructions to the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Operations to develop a draft centralized administrative review process for Directives, Coal revised the Coal Uniform Mine File Procedures Handbook to require pertinent accident reports and technical studies to be maintained in the Uniform Mine File for the subject mine. All MSHA Technical Support accident investigation and technical study reports and memoranda that result in recommendations for the mine operator will be kept in the file for the life of the mine.
The Administrator for Coal should direct revision of the Program Policy Manual to:
  • Establish policy for 30 CFR 75.1716-1 to define the manner in which mine operators must provide notice to the district manager prior to the commencement of mining operations when planning to mine under any river, stream, lake, or other body of water. The policy also should state explicitly that other body of water, includes water pools in overlying mines.

  • Clearly state the Agencys interpretation of water pools above, as referenced in 30 CFR 75.1200(j), by explicitly stating that the phrase water pools above includes water pools in overlying mines.

  • Instruct district personnel to request that an operator identify pools of water in overlying mines where applicable when submitting mine ventilation maps.

  • Clarify the detail to be shown on mine ventilation maps to include elevations on 10-foot contours in overlying and underlying mines when elevations are available on overlying or underlying mine maps.

  • Direct district managers to exercise their authority under 30 CFR 75.1203 to require that operators furnish a current 75.1200 map at the same time the annual mine ventilation map is submitted. Both maps should be updated as of the same date.
  • 12/31/2013 Completed Following up on the Assistant Secretary's instructions to the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Operations to develop a draft centralized administrative review process for Directives, and in lieu of revising the Program Policy Manual, the Administrator for Coal published Program Policy Letter (PPL) No. P13-V-10, Permits for Mining Under Bodies of Water to:
  • Establish policy for 30 CFR 75.1716-1 to define the manner in which mine operators must provide notice to the district manager prior to the commencement of mining operations when planning to mine under any river, stream, lake, or other body of water. The policy also states explicitly that other body of water, includes water pools in overlying mines.

  • Clearly state the Agencys interpretation of water pools above, as referenced in 30 CFR 75.1200(j), by explicitly stating that the phrase water pools above includes water pools in overlying mines.

  • Instruct district personnel to request that an operator identify pools of water in overlying mines where applicable when submitting mine ventilation maps.

  • Clarify the detail to be shown on mine ventilation maps to include elevations on 10-foot contours in overlying and underlying mines when elevations are available on overlying or underlying mine maps.

  • Direct district managers to exercise their authority under 30 CFR 75.1203 to require that operators furnish a current 75.1200 map at the same time the annual mine ventilation map is submitted. Both maps should be updated as of the same date.
  • The Administrator for Coal should direct that a Roof Control Plan Approval Handbook be developed to consolidate the numerous PILs, PIBs, and CMS&H memoranda. This will provide plan reviewers with a discrete set of guidelines and instructions for evaluating and processing roof control plans. The handbook should specify that correspondence between the coal operators and plan reviewers be maintained as part of the plan approval record. This should include procedures for tracking responses due from operators following MSHA requests for plan revisions. 12/31/2013 Completed Following up on the Assistant Secretary's instructions to the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Operations to develop a draft centralized administrative review process for Directives, Coal published the new Roof Control Plan Approval and Review Procedures Handbook. The handbook consolidates the numerous PILs, PIBs, and CMS&H memoranda to provide plan reviewers with a discrete set of guidelines and instructions for evaluating and processing roof control plans. The handbook specifies that correspondence between the coal operators and plan reviewers be maintained as part of the plan approval record and includes procedures for tracking responses due from operators following MSHA requests for plan revisions.
    The Administrators for Coal and Metal and Nonmetal should direct the revision of the Mine Rescue Instruction Guide to require a firewall to prevent personnel who have had personal contact with family members from participating in command center decisions. TBD Completed The Assistant Secretary considered the recommendation to restrict MSHA officials who have contact with family members from participating in command center decisions and determined that such action would not be in the best interest of mine safety and mine rescue efforts. As a result, the Mine Rescue Instruction Guide was not revised.

    When a mine emergency occurs, MSHA has a number of responsibilities. It must provide guidance and oversight of the event for the safety of those at risk, communicate with the families of those that may be affected by the event and communicate to the public including through the news media, public officials and others. Individuals with expertise in managing these critical aspects of a mine emergency should not be unnecessarily prohibited from carrying out those responsibilities.
    The Administrators for Coal and Metal and Nonmetal should collaborate with SOL and the Director of OAASEI to revise Volume III of the Program Policy Manual to:
  • Define a potentially flagrant violation using the numbered objective criteria referenced in the Citation and Order Writing Handbook for Coal and Metal and Nonmetal Mines.

  • Add potentially flagrant violations to the list of violations that are required to be reviewed for special assessment. The matrix that follows this list also should be clarified to include potentially flagrant violations.

  • Explicitly require that all SAR Forms for potentially flagrant violations be submitted to the Administrator along with supporting documentation, even if the District Manager does not recommend a flagrant violation special assessment because of the perceived absence of substantial and proximate cause or the presence of mitigating factors.

  • Include the Potential Flagrant Violations Not Assessed oversight report with the reference to the Assessable Violations Not Marked Report (R-119 Report) for regular review by district personnel.

  • Update guidance on legal requirements for implementing assessments of flagrant violations, including whether repeat flagrant violations must be related to the same distinct hazard.
  • 12/31/2013 Completed Following up on the Assistant Secretary's instructions to the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Operations to develop a draft centralized administrative review process for Directives, Coal and Metal and Nonmetal collaborated with SOL and OAASEI to revise Volume III of the Program Policy Manual to:
  • Define a potentially flagrant violation using the numbered objective criteria referenced in the Citation and Order Writing Handbook for Coal and Metal and Nonmetal Mines.

  • Add potentially flagrant violations to the list of violations that are required to be reviewed for special assessment and clarify the matrix that follows this list to include potentially flagrant violations.

  • Explicitly require that all SAR Forms for potentially flagrant violations be submitted to the Administrator along with supporting documentation, even if the District Manager does not recommend a flagrant violation special assessment because of the perceived absence of substantial and proximate cause or the presence of mitigating factors.

  • Include the Potential Flagrant Violations Not Assessed oversight report with the reference to the Assessable Violations Not Marked Report (R-119 Report) for regular review by district personnel.

  • Update guidance on legal requirements for implementing assessments of flagrant violations, including whether repeat flagrant violations must be related to the same distinct hazard.
  • The Administrators for Coal and Metal and Nonmetal should collaborate with the Office of the Solicitor, Mine Safety and Health Division (SOL) to revise the Citation and Order Writing Handbook for Coal and Metal and Nonmetal Mines to incorporate applicable provisions from PIL I08-III-02. The Handbook should:
  • Define the term substantial and proximate cause and explain the inspectors role, if any, in its evaluation.

  • Include instructions that clearly direct inspectors and specialists to complete a SAR Form for each violation that meets the numbered objective criteria for screening potentially flagrant violations. The second scenario in the Flagrant Citations and Orders chapter of the Handbook should reference whether the example should be reviewed as a potentially flagrant violation.

  • Direct inspectors and specialists to include a SAR Form in the packet to be sent to the District Office for each violation meeting the numbered objective criteria.
  • 12/31/2013 Completed Following up on the Assistant Secretary's instructions to the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Operations to develop a draft centralized administrative review process for Directives, Coal and Metal and Nonmetal collaborated with SOL to revise the Citation and Order Writing Handbook for Coal and Metal and Nonmetal Mines to:
  • Define the term substantial and proximate cause and explain the inspectors role, if any, in its evaluation.

  • Include instructions that clearly direct inspectors and specialists to complete a SAR Form for each violation that meets the numbered objective criteria for screening potentially flagrant violations. The second scenario in the Flagrant Citations and Orders chapter of the Handbook references whether the example should be reviewed as a potentially flagrant violation.

  • Direct inspectors and specialists to include a SAR Form in the packet to be sent to the District Office for each violation meeting the numbered objective criteria.
  • MSHA did not issue a new Program Instruction Letter in addition to the revision to the Citation and Order Writing Handbook for Coal and Metal and Nonmetal Mines because this part of the recommendation was determined to be redundant. PIL 108-111-02 expired and the updated guidance was incorporated into the Program Policy Manual.
    The Administrators for Coal and Metal and Nonmetal and the Director of OAASEI should revise the Program Policy Manual and the Special Investigations Procedures Handbook to be consistent with the procedures and instructions contained in the Citation and Order Writing Handbook for Coal and Metal and Nonmetal Mines pertaining to possible knowing and/or willful violation reviews. Instructions for completing MSHA Form 7000-20 should be included in the Citation and Order Writing Handbook for Coal and Metal and Nonmetal Mines. 12/31/2013 Completed To address part of this recommendation, OAASEI revised the Program Policy Manual and Special Investigations Procedures Handbook regarding possible knowing and/or willful reviews to be consistent with the applicable sections of the Citation and Order Writing Handbook. In consultation with the Office of the Solicitor and the Administrators for Coal and Metal and Nonmetal, OAASEI revised MSHA Form 7000-20 (the Possible Knowing and Willful Violation Review Form) and the instructions for completing the form by December 31, 2012, and it is undergoing final review.

    The Program Policy Manual and the Special Investigations Procedures Handbook were revised by December 31, 2012 and are scheduled to go into effect by April 2013 once the appropriate training has been conducted.

    Coal, MNM, OAASEI are working with SOL to revise Volume III of the Program Policy Manual.

    Following up on the Assistant Secretary's instructions to the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Operations to develop a draft centralized administrative review process for Directives, Coal and Metal and Nonmetal collaborated with SOL and OAASEI to revise Volume III of the Program Policy Manual.
    The Administrators for Coal and Metal and Nonmetal should direct the revision of the Program Policy Manual to clarify MSHAs interpretation of the phrase mine in its entirety at least four times a year, as referenced by section 103(a) of the Mine Act. 12/31/2013 Completed Following up on the Assistant Secretary's instructions to the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Operations to develop a draft centralized administrative review process for Directives, Coal revised the Program Policy Manual to clarify MSHAs interpretation of the phrase mine in its entirety at least four times a year, as referenced by section 103(a) of the Mine Act.
    The Administrator for Coal should direct the revision of the Coal Mine Safety and Health Supervisors Handbook to address correction of inspection deficiencies identified after a fiscal quarter expires, so that salient inspection activities can be conducted four times a year. Supervisors should direct inspectors responsible for deficiencies to reopen regular inspections and complete deficient activities related to salient parts of regular inspections. Prior to implementation, the Administrator should consult with the Director of PEIR to ensure that other programs or computer-based oversight tools will not be adversely affected when regular inspections are reopened after the end of a fiscal quarter. 12/31/2013 Completed Following up on the Assistant Secretary's instructions to the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Operations to develop a draft centralized administrative review process for Directives, Coal revised the Coal Mine Safety and Health Supervisors Handbook to address correction of inspection deficiencies identified after a fiscal quarter expires, so that salient inspection activities can be conducted four times a year.

    Coal consulted with PEIR regarding the potential impact of reopening regular inspections after the end of a fiscal quarter. As a result of this consultation, it was determined that if a regular inspection was not properly completed after the event has been closed, a spot inspection event shall be opened and the necessary inspection activities to complete the regular inspection shall be conducted. Coal has a system of checks and balances to account for such occurrences so that the reports accurately depict the completion rates.
    The Administrators for Coal and Metal and Nonmetal should direct the revision of the Program Policy Manual to address criteria for determining when section 103(i) inspections will be required for reasons other than methane liberation. Criteria should define when section 103(i) inspections are required at a mine where there exists some other especially hazardous condition. The PPM also should be revised to define the degree of injury resulting from an ignition or explosion that would require section 103(i) inspections. 12/31/2013 Completed Following up on the Assistant Secretary's instructions to the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Operations to develop a draft centralized administrative review process for Directives, Coal and Metal and Nonmetal revised the Program Policy Manual to address criteria for determining when section 103(i) inspections will be required for reasons other than methane liberation. The revised PPM criteria define when section 103(i) inspections are required where there exists some other especially hazardous condition. The PPM was also revised to define the degree of injury resulting from an ignition or explosion that would require 103(i) inspections.
    The Administrator for Coal should direct the revision of the Uniform Mine File Procedures Handbook to include an up-to-date copy of the Mine Information Form generated from MSIS. 12/31/2013 Completed Following up on the Assistant Secretary's instructions to the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Operations to develop a draft centralized administrative review process for Directives, Coal revised the Coal Uniform Mine File Procedures Handbook to include an up-to-date copy of the Mine Information Form generated from the MSHA Standardized Information System (MSIS).
    The Administrator for Coal should direct the revision of the Coal Mine Safety and Health Supervisors Handbook to provide supervisors with a list of fundamental procedures for reviewing enforcement actions. The Handbook also should direct assistant district managers to routinely review a representative number of enforcement actions for conformity to these procedures. Managers should review a representative number of extensions to citations to ensure that inspectors provide specific reasons for extending termination due times that give primary consideration to the health and safety of miners and are not for the convenience of the mine operator or MSHA. 9/30/2012




















    12/31/2013
    Completed




















    Completed
    To address part of this recommendation, Coal regularly provides oversight to supervisors and managers on how to properly review inspection reports and enforcement actions. At the same time, managers and supervisors are instructed regarding extensions for abatement to ensure that any extension granted is warranted. PEIR provides monthly reports alerting Coal to citations that may have not been abated on a timely basis.

    Consistent with the Assistant Secretary's instructions to the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Operations to develop a draft centralized administrative review process for Directives, Coal will revise the Coal Mine Safety and Health Supervisor's Handbook to provide supervisors with a list of procedures for reviewing enforcement actions.

    Following up on the Assistant Secretary's instructions to the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Operations to develop a draft centralized administrative review process for Directives, Coal revised the Coal Mine Safety and Health Supervisors Handbook to provide supervisors with a list of fundamental procedures for reviewing enforcement actions. The Handbook directs assistant district managers to routinely review a representative number of enforcement actions for conformity to these procedures.

    Managers should review a representative number of extensions to citations to ensure that inspectors provide specific reasons for extending termination due times that give primary consideration to the health and safety of miners and are not for the convenience of the mine operator or MSHA.
    The Administrators for Coal and Metal and Nonmetal should direct the revision of their general inspection procedure handbooks to move note-taking instructions related to enforcement actions to the Citation and Order Writing Handbook for Coal Mines and Metal and Nonmetal Mines. The Handbook should direct inspectors to document both the facts necessary for evaluating compliance, gravity, and negligence and the logic for deriving conclusions from the facts. Inspectors should identify in their notes the records (specific to the record type, dates, and relevant information from such records) used as a factor to determine negligence for each violation. 12/31/2012


































    12/31/2013
    Completed


































    Completed
    Following up on the Assistant Secretarys July 21, 2010 directive regarding the evaluation of enforcement policies and procedures used by inspectors in their inspection activities, and to address part of this recommendation, the Administrator for Coal revised its general inspection procedures handbook to direct inspectors to document both the facts necessary for evaluating compliance, gravity, and negligence and the logic for deriving conclusions from the facts, and that inspectors should identify in their notes the records (specific to the record type, dates, and relevant information from such records) used as a factor to determine negligence for each violation.

    The handbook was revised by December 31, 2012 with final approval on January 29, 2013. The revised handbook is scheduled to go into effect by April 2013 once the appropriate training has been conducted. NOTE: Metal and Nonmetals general inspection handbook already includes this information.

    Note-taking instructions related to enforcement actions will remain in the general inspection procedure handbooks until the Citation and Order Writing Handbook for Coal Mines and Metal and Nonmetal Mines is revised by December 31, 2013.

    Note-taking instructions related to enforcement actions remain in the general inspection procedure handbooks and have been incorporated in the Citation and Order (C&O) Writing Handbook for Coal Mines and Metal and Nonmetal Mines. The C&O Handbook was amended and refers inspectors to their respective program area's general inspection procedures handbooks for specific guidance on citation and order documentation

    MSHA Program Areas' Corrective Actions (As of September 30, 2013)

    Recommendation Date Due Status Corrective Action Taken
    The Director of PEIR should provide the following to enhance enforcement of 30 CFR 75.403 and minimize rock dust data input errors.
  • The RDSS and RDDR applications should be incorporated into IPAL and MSIS.

  • The Rock Dust Sample Submission Form and the MSHA enterprise database should be modified to include fields to document the location of the last row of samples collected during rock dust surveys.

  • Lab analysis reports should be modified to include surveys where no samples were submitted for analysis (e.g., all wet sample locations) to confirm data transfer. Such documents should be included in inspection reports, consistent with current MSHA inspection procedures, rather than Rock Dust Sample Submission Forms.

  • Standard oversight reports should be developed and distributed to headquarters, district, and field offices to monitor:
  • Rock dust surveys with no samples collected, including surveys containing all No Sample or Wet locations.

  • Sample collection rates from previously wet locations for each underground bituminous coal mine.

  • Non-compliant spot rock dust samples with no subsequent enforcement actions. This may require additional fields on the Rock Dust Sample Submission Form showing the purpose for collecting a spot sample (i.e., previously wet sample location, violation abatement sample, or compliance sample).
  • 8/15/2013 Completed In evaluating a related internal review recommendation on rock dust sampling, Coal Mine Safety and Health (CMS&H) concluded that a new and more effective approach to sampling was warranted. Working with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and following up on the Assistant Secretary's July 21, 2010 directive regarding the evaluation of enforcement policies and procedures used by inspectors in their inspection activities, CMS&H revised the Coal Mine Safety and Health General Inspection Procedures Handbook to include the new procedure. The revised handbook went into effect in April 2013.

    Rock dust sampling, including the Rock Dust Sample Submission (RDSS) and Rock Dust Data Retrieval System (RDDR) applications, were incorporated into the Inspectors Portable Application for Laptops (IPAL) and the MSHA Standardized Information System (MSIS) on March 29, 2013.

    The recommendations to modify the Rock Dust Sample Submission Form and the MSHA enterprise database to include fields to document the location of the last row of samples collected during rock dust surveys and to modify lab analysis reports to include surveys where no samples were submitted for analysis to confirm data transfer are no longer applicable with the new procedure since surveys are no longer required.

    Standard oversight reports for rock dust surveys with no samples collected, including surveys containing all No Sample or Wet locations and sample collection rates from previously wet locations are no longer applicable with the new procedure since collection of samples in wet locations is no longer required.

    PEIR developed standard oversight reports to monitor rock dust samples by mine for a specified date range. One such report identifies non-compliant spot rock dust samples with no subsequent enforcement actions. These reports are distributed to headquarters, district, and field offices.
    The Administrator for Coal should direct a complete evaluation of the effectiveness of the ITS. This evaluation should consider the time used to maintain and update the system and the value realized in tracking the progress of an inspection. Continued use of the ITS and possible modifications to the system would be determined from this analysis. Modifications should eliminate areas of duplication, minimize the time required to document complete inspections, and provide enforcement personnel with a useful resource for conducting quality inspections. 9/30/2013 Completed The Administrator for Coal directed staff to conduct the evaluation of the effectiveness of the Inspection Tracking System (ITS) in collaboration with members of Program Evaluation and Information Resources (PEIR). This evaluation was conducted in two phases, before and after the implementation of the revised Coal Mine Safety and Health General Inspection Procedures Handbook in April 2013. The ITS evaluations, conducted in October 2012 and September 2013 highlighted key issues on the usability, data integrity and security, and reporting functions of the stand-alone inspector application for tracking inspections.

    As a result of this recommendation and the findings from the evaluations, PEIR convened a committee to redesign the ITS for Coal enforcement; this work is currently in progress.
    The Administrator for Coal should investigate and resolve issues surrounding double-encumbering temporarily vacant positions to improve oversight and to maintain an experienced staff of enforcement personnel. Ongoing Completed The Administrator for Coal investigated issues surrounding double-encumbering temporarily vacant positions and determined that it is not feasible due to budgetary issues.

    In lieu of double-encumbering, the Administrator for Coal implemented the following actions to promptly fill enforcement positions within CMS&H and provide oversight of the hiring process:
  • Closely monitor staffing numbers and the FTE ceiling.

  • Centralize district hiring approval and authority through the Office of the Administrator. The Coal Management Office collaborates with the Regional Personnel Offices on the authority to hire and fill positions on a timely basis.

  • Meet weekly with the Deputy Administrator and Management Office staff to review headquarters and district staffing numbers, data, vacancies, postings and hiring. This includes a status review of vacancy announcements, postings / close dates, interviews, and filling vacancies prior to the expiration.

  • Hold quarterly meetings between Coal headquarters and district management staff to review staffing numbers, data, attrition (actual and projected), resource and inspection needs, and hiring.
  • MSHA Program Areas' Corrective Actions (As of June 30, 2013)

    Recommendation Date Due Status Corrective Action Taken
    The Administrator for Coal should direct the committee revising the Carbon Monoxide and Atmospheric Monitoring Systems Inspection Procedures Handbook to identify the salient parts of an AMS or CO system inspection. The CO Handbook should describe how an inspector would conduct an inspection to address each salient part to determine the system is being operated and maintained in compliance with the appropriate safety standards. Any portions of the system inspection that require an electrical specialist attention should be clearly identified. 6/30/2013 Completed The revised Automatic Fire Sensor and Warning Device Systems Using Carbon Monoxide Sensors and Atmospheric Monitoring System Inspections Procedures Handbook, formerly the Carbon Monoxide and Atmospheric Monitoring Systems Inspection Procedures Handbook, sets forth procedures for inspection of atmospheric monitoring systems (AMS) and automatic fire sensor and warning device systems conducted by Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) inspectors, including electrical specialists and/or other inspectors with advance electrical knowledge, who are trained to conduct in-depth inspections of these systems. This handbook outlines the portions of the AMS that require electrical expertise.

    The revised handbook also directs coal mine inspectors to consult the Coal Mine Safety and Health General Inspection Procedures Handbook for salient portions of an AMS or CO system inspection to be conducted as part of an E01 inspection. The Coal Mine General Inspection Procedures Handbook describes in detail how an inspector would conduct an inspection to address each salient part to determine the system is being operated and maintained in compliance with the appropriate safety standards. All inspectors were trained prior to the implementation of the new Coal Mine General Inspection Procedures Handbook.
    The Administrator for Coal should direct that training be provided to appropriate Coal personnel on the Agency policy requiring reduced standards on deactivated MMUs to be continued with newly-activated MMUs. The training should include instruction on the revised guidelines of the Mine Ventilation Plan Approval Procedures Handbook. 6/30/2013 Completed The Administrator for Coal directed revisions of the Coal Health Inspection Procedures Handbook Chapter 1 and the Program Policy Manual that included the following:
  • Clarified the application of reduced standards to MMUs by explaining the policy and procedures for assigning respirable dust standards when a new MMU is approved to account for the mines history of reduced respirable dust standards and geological conditions.

  • Clarified the abatement time for excessive dust citations.

  • The Administrator for Coal also directed revisions to the Mine Ventilation Plan Approval Procedures Handbook.

    On July 25, 2012, Coal Headquarters staff provided training to District Health supervisors and specialists on revised Agency policy and procedures in response to the UBB internal review.

    On June 5, 2013, Coal Headquarters staff provided training to district management and ventilation supervisors with instruction on the revised guidelines of the Mine Ventilation Plan Approval Procedures Handbook.
    The Administrator for Coal should direct the revision of the Program Policy Manual to:
  • Clarify when it is appropriate to establish a new MMU number, including situations when mining equipment is replaced with similar machinery. Policy should clearly explain procedures for assigning respirable dust standards when a new MMU is approved to account for the mines history of reduced respirable dust standards and expected geological conditions.

  • Clarify application of 30 CFR 70.207(a) as it relates to the collection of bimonthly samples by mine operators and provide training on the revised policy. This policy should provide guidance on when an MMU has operated a sufficient number of days during a bimonthly period to warrant operator sampling.

  • Establish criteria for determining abatement times for citations issued for excessive respirable dust concentrations.

  • Provide consistent guidance between Section I.103-4 of the Program Policy Manual and the Coal Mine Health Inspection Procedures Handbook. Revisions should clarify when MSHA will collect respirable dust samples on each operating MMU and state that invalid or voided samples do not count for fulfilling this obligation.
  • 6/30/2013 Completed The Administrator for Coal directed revisions of MSHAs Program Policy Manual and the Coal Mine Health Procedures Handbook Chapter 1 on Respirable Dust that accomplished the following:
  • Clarified when it is appropriate to establish a new MMU number, including situations when mining equipment is replaced with similar machinery. The Program Policy Manual and Chapter 1 were revised to explain the policy and procedures for assigning respirable dust standards when a new MMU is approved to account for the mines history of reduced respirable dust standards and expected geological conditions.

  • Outlined policy guidance in the Program Policy Manual on the collection frequency of inspector respirable dust standards at underground and surface coal mines and stipulates the sufficient number of days a MMU/DA/DWP/Part 90 miner operated or was available during a bimonthly period to warrant operator sampling. On June 27, 2013, training was provided to all districts concerning these changes. On July 25, 2012, Coal Headquarters staff provided training to District health supervisors and specialists on revised health policy and procedures in response to the UBB Internal Review.

  • Provided training on the issuance of citations related to the failure of mine operators to collect the required respirable dust samples each bimonthly period. The failure to submit citations are included in the tracking report Abatement Times for Respirable Dust Citations as a means to ensure the appropriate enforcement actions are taken by field personnel and citations for failure to submit bimonthly samples are issued and abated in a timely fashion.

  • Established criteria in Chapter 1 for determining abatement times for citations issued for excessive respirable dust concentrations.

  • Provided consistent guidance between the revisions of Section 1.103.4 of the Program Policy Manual and the Coal Mine Health Inspection Procedures Handbook Chapter 1 to clarify when MSHA will collect respirable dust samples on each operating MMU and that invalid or voided samples do not count toward fulfilling this obligation.
  • The Director of EPD should direct the revision of training programs for citation and order writing to reflect changes in policies and procedures. The training should be provided to all enforcement personnel, supervisors, and managers. Knowledge checks should be used to determine the effectiveness of the training. 7/31/2012









    6/30/2013
    Completed









    Completed
    EPD developed a draft refresher on-line training course for inspectors on citation and order writing that was completed by July 31, 2012. The draft was sent to the Administrator for Coal and EPD staff for review. Final edits were completed and the course was finalized on September 13, 2012. Knowledge checks are being used to determine the effectiveness of the training.

    EPD collaborated with the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Operations to develop an Administrative Policy Letter (APL) to provide guidance and define roles and responsibilities to ensure all new and updated regulations, policies and procedures are incorporated into the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) Entry-Level and Journeyman-Level Training conducted through the National Mine Health and Safety Academy. The APL was signed on June 28, 2013 by the Assistant Secretary for MSHA.
    The Administrators for Coal and Metal and Nonmetal should collaborate with the Office of the Solicitor, Mine Safety and Health Division (SOL) to revise the Citation and Order Writing Handbook for Coal Mines and Metal and Nonmetal Mines to provide a clear evaluation process for inspectors to determine gravity and negligence for each relevant item on the Mine Citation/Order Form. This direction should include definitions for each level of likelihood listed on the Form. The revised Handbook also should incorporate definitions for the levels of negligence that are consistent with those listed in 30 CFR Part 100 and clearly incorporate the meaning of mitigating circumstances. 6/30/2013 Completed Based on guidance from SOL and consistent with the Assistant Secretary's instructions to the Deputy Assistant of Secretary for Operations to develop a draft centralized administrative review process for Directives, CMS&H and MNM revised Chapter 4 of the Citation and Order Writing Handbook for Coal Mines and Metal and Nonmetal Mines to provide a clear evaluation process for inspectors to determine gravity and negligence for each relevant item on the Mine Citation/Order Form. Definitions for each level of likelihood listed on the Mine Citation/Order Form have been added to the Handbook. The levels of negligence listed in the Handbook are now consistent with those listed in 30 CFR Part 100, and the meaning of mitigating circumstances is clearly defined in the Handbook.
    The Administrator for Coal should direct the revision of the Mine Ventilation Plan Approval Procedures Handbook to specify that ventilation specialists conduct the physical inspection portion of six-month ventilation plan reviews for mines with complex ventilation systems, such as those with longwall mining. 12/31/2013 Completed The Administrator for Coal directed the revision of the Mine Ventilation Plan Approval Procedures Handbook to specify that ventilation specialists should participate as needed in plan reviews, including a portion of the physical inspection portion of the six-month ventilation plan reviews for mines with complex ventilation systems, such as those with longwall mining as determined by the District Manager.

    MSHA Program Areas' Corrective Actions (As of March 31, 2013)


    Recommendation Date Due Status Corrective Action Taken
    The Administrator for Coal should collaborate with the Director of EPD to provide instruction on bleeder system evaluations during biannual retraining of all underground enforcement personnel and supervisors. 3/31/2013










    6/30/2013
    Completed










    Completed
    All journeyman coal inspectors as part of their 2011-2012 retraining curriculum received seals and bleeders refresher training by the end of FY 2012. This training is also part of the FY 2013 2014 Journeyman Retraining curriculum. Bleeder evaluation training is part of Entry Level Training provided to all coal entry level inspectors in the Ventilation II course that is required prior to graduation from the program.

    The CMS&H Administrator and the Director of EPD collaborated on providing periodic retraining on bleeder system evaluations to Coal underground enforcement personnel, including supervisors and managers. Bleeder training was provided to all Coal enforcement, including supervisors and managers by June 2012.

    Seals and bleeders refresher training is also scheduled to be provided to Coal Field Office Supervisors in July 2013.
    The Director of EPD should collaborate with the Administrators for Coal and Metal and Nonmetal to improve the tracking of retraining of supervisors, inspectors, and specialists. The Administrators should provide an annual report to the Assistant Secretary detailing compliance with this policy. 10/31/2012












    3/31/2013
    Completed












    Completed
    EPD currently has a system to track retraining of inspectors. To satisfy part of this recommendation, EPD modified this system by adding the capability to specifically identify retraining received by enforcement personnel through the National Mine Health & Safety Academy. This update gives district administrative personnel access to real-time reports on the retraining progress for all of the personnel in the District beginning with the 2013/2014 retraining cycle.

    To satisfy the second part of this recommendation, EPD collaborated with Coal, Metal and Nonmetal, as well as PEIR to integrate a common tracking system to track retraining conducted at other sites and certified by Coal and Metal and Nonmetal. The integration of the common tracking system was completed on March 29, 2013 and reports on retraining are now available on one reporting system. The Administrators for Coal and Metal and Nonmetal will provide an annual report to the Assistant Secretary detailing compliance with this policy at the end of each fiscal year.

    MSHA Program Areas' Corrective Actions (As of December 31, 2012)


    Recommendation Date Due Status Corrective Action Taken
    The Administrator for Coal should direct staff to audit the District 4 and 12 ventilation plans to determine whether the methane and dust control plans have been incorporated into the mine ventilation plans, subject to a single review date. 10/1/2012 Completed The Administrator for Coal directed Coal Mine Safety and Health staff to conduct audits of the District 4 and 12 ventilation plans to determine whether the methane and dust control plans had been incorporated into the mine ventilation plans, subject to a single review date. During the week of July 23-27, 2012, the Chief of the Division of Health conducted a preliminary audit and established that both districts had begun the process to integrate the ventilation and dust/methane plans into a single plan, with a single review date. As a follow-up, on September 21, 2012, the Administrator for Coal directed the Division of Safety (DOS) to complete the audit in compliance with this recommendation. The Chief of DOS conducted the audit on October 9-10, 2012 and determined that District 4 and District 12 methane and dust control plans have been combined with the ventilation plans and are subject to single review dates.
    The Director of EPD should collaborate with the Administrators for Coal and Metal and Nonmetal to improve the tracking of retraining of supervisors, inspectors, and specialists. The Administrators should provide an annual report to the Assistant Secretary detailing compliance with this policy. 10/31/2012












    3/31/2013
    Completed












    In Progress
    EPD currently has a system to track retraining of inspectors. To satisfy part of this recommendation, EPD modified this system by adding the capability to specifically identify retraining received by enforcement personnel through the National Mine Health & Safety Academy. This update gives district administrative personnel access to real-time reports on the retraining progress for all of the personnel in the District beginning with the 2013/2014 retraining cycle.

    MSHA is working to integrate a common tracking system so completed reports on training are available from one reporting system. Once this is completed, the Administrators will provide an annual report to the Assistant Secretary detailing compliance with this policy.
    The Administrator for Coal with the assistance of the Chief of Mine Emergency Operations should modify the existing MERD program to train appropriate MSHA personnel in command center duties and responsibilities and established mine rescue protocols. This training should include: how to evaluate the level of acceptable risk to mine rescue teams using all available relevant information; the use of back-up and standby teams; systematic exploration, including "tying in" areas of the mine; communications between mine rescue teams and the fresh air base; re-ventilation of areas affected by explosions; use and evaluation of inert gases; and possible survivors in refuge alternatives. 11/30/2012 Completed The Administrator for Coal collaborated with the Chief of Emergency Operations to modify existing MERD training on command center duties and responsibilities and established mine rescue protocols. On November 14, 2012, MERD training was conducted for coal managers and supervisors at the National Mine Health and Safety Academy. The training included the following:
  • How to evaluate the level of acceptable risk to mine rescue teams using all available relevant information;
  • The use of back-up and standby teams;
  • Systematic exploration, including "tying in" areas of the mine;
  • Communications between mine rescue teams and the fresh air base;
  • Re-ventilation of areas affected by explosions;
  • Use and evaluation of inert gases; and
  • Possible survivors in refuge alternatives.
  • The Director of PEIR should collaborate with the Administrator for Coal to revise the Mine Plan Approval (MPA) database system to track the time required to process ventilation plans and supplements. The Administrator should direct district managers to use MPA to monitor the time required to process plans and take appropriate administrative actions when necessary. 12/7/2012 Completed The Acting Director of PEIR collaborated with the Administrator for Coal to revise the MPA database system to track the time required to process ventilation plans and supplements. PEIR published the "Days to Reach Decision" Report in the MSHA Report Center on November 2, 2012. On November 28, 2012, the Administrator for Coal directed district managers and district personnel to use the report to monitor the time required to process plans and take appropriate administrative action when necessary.
    The Administrator for Coal should direct revisions to the General Coal Mine Inspection Procedures and Inspection Tracking System Handbook to:
  • Identify training records required by 30 CFR 75.338(a) and 75.1501(a)(3) as records that are to be inspected during a regular inspection, as well as any records of any other training required by MSHA regulations.
  • Specify the percentage of miners for which training records are to be inspected during a regular inspection.
  • Include the requirements of CMS&H Memo No. HQ-08-055-A that direct inspectors to question miners on their training related to roof control plans and document such information. The Administrator also should consider similar guidance regarding training related to ventilation plans.
  • 12/31/2012 Completed Following up on the Assistant Secretary's July 21, 2010 directive regarding the evaluation of enforcement policies and procedures used by inspectors in their inspection activities, Coal revised the General Coal Mine Inspection Procedures and Inspection Tracking System Handbook, now titled the Coal Mine Safety and Health General Inspection Procedures Handbook to:
  • Identify training records required by 30 CFR 75.338(a) and 75.1501(a)(3) as records that are to be inspected during a regular inspection, as well as any records of any other training required by MSHA regulations;
  • Specify the percentage of miners for which training records are to be inspected during a regular inspection;
  • Include the requirements of CMS&H Memo No. HQ-08-055-A that direct inspectors to question miners on their training related to roof control plans and document such information; and
  • Include similar guidance regarding training related to ventilation plans.
  • The handbook was revised by December 31, 2012 with final approval on January 29, 2013. The revised handbook is scheduled to go into effect by April 2013 once the appropriate training has been conducted.
    The Administrator for Coal should direct the revision of the General Coal Mine Inspection Procedures and Inspection Tracking System Handbook to direct electrical or permissibility inspections of longwall systems to be conducted by electrical specialists or inspectors who hold a current MSHA electrical qualification card. 12/31/2012 Completed Following up on the Assistant Secretary's July 21, 2010 directive regarding the evaluation of enforcement policies and procedures used by inspectors in their inspection activities, Coal revised the Coal Mine Safety and Health General Inspection Procedures Handbook to direct that electrical specialists or inspectors who hold a current MSHA electrical qualification card should conduct a complete permissibility inspection of each longwall system on at least an annual basis.

    The handbook was revised by December 31, 2012 with final approval on January 29, 2013. The revised handbook is scheduled to go into effect by April 2013 once the appropriate training has been conducted.

    Both electrical and non-electrical inspectors were trained on how to conduct permissibility inspections on longwalls. District 4 and District 12 inspectors were trained on April 3 and 4, 2012 at the National Mine Health and Safety Academy. The training program was distributed to all remaining coal districts. The rest of Coal's inspectors were trained on longwall permissibility inspections by September 30, 2012.
    The Administrator for Coal should direct the revision of the General Coal Mine Inspection Procedures and Inspection Tracking System Handbook to specify those procedures outlined in the CO Handbook that are to be completed during each regular inspection. 12/31/2012 Completed Following up on the Assistant Secretary's July 21, 2010 directive regarding the evaluation of enforcement policies and procedures used by inspectors in their inspection activities, Coal revised the Coal Mine Safety and Health General Inspection Procedures Handbook by specifying those procedures outlined in the CO Handbook that are to be completed during each regular inspection. These procedures include the:
  • Examination of AMS components;
  • Observations of the operator making a required calibration of system sensors;
  • Comparison of the data and times obtained during the inspection to information recorded by the system on the surface;
  • Evaluation concerning the knowledge of the responsible person(s) about the system display, the actions required for any alert and alarm, and appropriate notification of miners and mine management when an alert or alarm occurs; and
  • Review of the most recent records to determine if proper notifications and corrective actions have been taken to address previous alerts, alarms, or system failures.
  • The handbook was revised by December 31, 2012 with final approval on January 29, 2013. The revised handbook is scheduled to go into effect by April 2013 once the appropriate training has been conducted.
    The Administrator for Coal should direct the revision of the General Coal Mine Inspection Procedures and Inspection Tracking System Handbook to describe the purpose of an inspector's review of the operators' examination records, and how the review should be utilized during inspections. The revised procedures should also identify specific items that should be checked when reviewing mine examination records, such as whether:
  • examinations have been conducted at required intervals;
  • examination records indicate violations of mandatory safety or health standards;
  • hazardous conditions have been properly recorded;
  • records of violations or hazardous conditions indicate a need for inspectors to follow up;
  • corrective actions have been recorded for reported hazardous conditions; and
  • ventilation of worked out and outby areas have been evaluated properly.
  • 12/31/2012 Completed Following up on the Assistant Secretary's July 21, 2010 directive regarding the evaluation of enforcement policies and procedures used by inspectors in their inspection activities, Coal revised the Coal Mine Safety and Health General Inspection Procedures Handbook by describing the purpose of an inspector's review of the operator's examination records, and how the review should be utilized during inspections. It states: "The inspector's review of the operators' examination records is to assure that required pre-shift, supplemental, on-shift and weekly examinations are performed and properly recorded, and that any hazardous conditions and violations of nine specific mandatory safety and health standards are recorded as corrected in a timely manner. The review should be used during inspections to assure all areas of the mine site are being examined in accordance with the 30 CFR and any approved plans."

    The revised procedures also identify specific items that should be checked when reviewing mine examination records, such as whether:
  • Examinations have been conducted at required intervals;
  • Examination records include violations of mandatory safety or health standards;
  • Hazardous conditions have been properly recorded;
  • Records of violations or hazardous conditions indicate a need for inspectors to follow up;
  • Corrective actions have been recorded for reported hazardous conditions; and
  • Ventilation of worked out and outby areas have been evaluated properly.
  • The revised handbook further stipulates that if examiners observe violations of other mandatory safety or health standards during their examinations, operators are required to correct those violations. Mine operators must review with examiners all citations and orders issued in areas where pre-shift, supplemental, on-shift, and weekly examinations are required on a quarterly basis.

    The handbook was revised by December 31, 2012 with final approval on January 29, 2013. The revised handbook is scheduled to go into effect by April 2013 once the appropriate training has been conducted.
    The Administrator for Coal should issue a Program Information Bulletin advising operators of the need for them to sample or test mine dust to ensure compliance with 30 CFR 75.403. 12/31/2012 Completed On January 25, 2013, the Administrator for Coal and the Director of Technical Support issued a Program Information Bulletin, encouraging operators to collect and measure mine dust samples to verify sufficient application of rock dust in underground coal mines.
    The Administrator for Coal should direct the revision of the General Coal Mine Inspection Procedures and Inspection Tracking System Handbook to improve planning, tracking, and oversight of rock dust sampling.
  • Inspectors should be directed to evaluate the adequacy of rock dust maintenance by collecting spot samples from a representative number of locations in outby areas. Sampling strategies should provide analysis results ahead of second mining, including longwall gate entries.
  • Inspectors should be directed to plot rock dust sample locations on regular inspection tracking maps. Sample collection dates and locations too wet to sample should be specified on the map.
  • Consideration should be given to replacing the Rock Dust Survey Wet Locations Tracking Form with tracking maps, or provide instruction to use the Form in the Handbook. If retained, the Form should be modified to include documentation of the inspector's name and date that the wet area was re-inspected. Also, the sample location status options on the Form should match those available on the computer application.
  • Inspectors should be directed to document in their notes the locations of section loading points and the last row of samples collected during rock dust surveys.
  • When collecting rock dust samples, inspectors should be directed to document in their notes the facts needed to evaluate negligence and gravity of potential 30 CFR 75.403 violations.
  • Inspectors should be directed to collect crosscut samples in the first row of each rock dust survey and in each third row thereafter.
  • Inspectors should be directed to resample non-compliant locations after re-dusting and before terminating any related enforcement actions.
  • Enforcement procedures should ensure re-dusting at all noncompliant sample locations, even if the survey was compliant.
  • 12/31/2012 Completed In evaluating this recommendation on rock dust sampling, Coal concluded that a new and more effective approach to sampling was warranted. Working with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and following up on the Assistant Secretary's July 21, 2010 directive regarding the evaluation of enforcement policies and procedures used by inspectors in their inspection activities, Coal revised the Coal Mine Safety and Health General Inspection Procedures Handbook to include this new procedure.

    The handbook was revised by December 31, 2012 with final approval on January 29, 2013. The revised handbook, which includes the new procedure, is scheduled to go into effect by April 2013 once the appropriate training has been conducted.
    The Administrators for Coal and Metal and Nonmetal should direct the revision of their general inspection procedures handbooks to be consistent with the recommended revisions of the Program Policy Manual regarding enforcement of section 103(a). 12/31/2012
















    12/31/2013
    Completed
















    In Progress
    Following up on the Assistant Secretary's July 21, 2010 directive regarding the evaluation of enforcement policies and procedures used by inspectors in their inspection activities, and to achieve consistency and conformity with the Program Policy Manual, Coal and Metal and Nonmetal revised their general inspection procedures handbooks regarding enforcement of section 103(a) (advance notice) and referenced the Program Policy Manual for additional guidance. When the revised handbooks go into effect, inspectors will be able to access the Program Policy Manual by links embedded in the handbooks.

    The handbooks were revised by December 31, 2012 with final approval on January 29, 2013. The revised handbooks are scheduled to go into effect by April 2013 once the appropriate training, which is to include enforcement of section 103(a) on advance notice, has been conducted.

    By December 31, 2013, Coal and Metal and Nonmetal will ensure that their general inspection procedures handbooks are consistent with any revisions made to the Program Policy Manual regarding enforcement of section 103(a).
    The Director of OAASEI should collaborate with the Administrators for Coal and Metal and Nonmetal to revise the Accountability Program Handbook to:
  • Remove references to accountability reviews led by MSHA Headquarters.
  • Provide for evaluation of the effectiveness of corrective actions.
  • Where practical, these evaluations should include objective measurements of results and effects of the corrective actions. In cases where training is identified as a corrective action, knowledge checks or equivalent means should be conducted to ensure an adequate understanding of the material.
    90 Days
    After
    Inspector
    General
    Issues
    Its
    Report

    (12/31/2012)
    Completed Following up on the Assistant Secretary's June 26, 2012 directive regarding the evaluation for effectiveness of corrective actions identified in MSHA's internal and accountability reviews, the Director of OAASEI, in collaboration with the Administrators for Coal and Metal and Nonmetal, EPD and PEIR revised the Accountability Program Handbook by:
  • Removing references to MSHA Headquarters accountability reviews, replacing those reviews with those conducted by the Office of Accountability;
  • Inserting requirements for Accountability Office reviews to evaluate the effectiveness of corrective actions taken to address previously identified issues; and
  • In cases where EPD develops and conducts training or develops on-line training that Coal and MNM use as corrective actions, including a requirement for knowledge checks to ensure an adequate understanding of the material.
  • The handbook was revised by December 31, 2012 and is scheduled to be published in February 2013.
    The Administrators for Coal and Metal and Nonmetal and the Director of OAASEI should revise the Program Policy Manual and the Special Investigations Procedures Handbook to be consistent with the procedures and instructions contained in the Citation and Order Writing Handbook for Coal and Metal and Nonmetal Mines pertaining to possible knowing and/or willful violation reviews. Instructions for completing MSHA Form 7000-20 should be included in the Citation and Order Writing Handbook for Coal and Metal and Nonmetal Mines. 12/31/2012





















    12/31/2013
    Completed





















    In Progress
    To address part of this recommendation, OAASEI revised the Program Policy Manual and Special Investigations Procedures Handbook regarding possible knowing and/or willful reviews to be consistent with the applicable sections of the Citation and Order Writing Handbook. In consultation with the Office of the Solicitor and the Administrators for Coal and Metal and Nonmetal, OAASEI revised MSHA Form 7000-20 (the Possible Knowing and Willful Violation Review Form) and the instructions for completing the form by December 31, 2012, and it is undergoing final review.

    The Program Policy Manual and the Special Investigations Procedures Handbook were revised by December 31, 2012 and are scheduled to go into effect by April 2013 once the appropriate training has been conducted.

    Coal, MNM, OAASEI are working with SOL to revise Volume III of the Program Policy Manual.
    The Assistant Secretary should direct the Office of Assessments, Accountability, Special Enforcement and Investigations to evaluate implementation of corrective actions resulting from internal reviews during each annual District Review. 90 Days
    After
    Inspector
    General
    Issues
    Its
    Report

    (12/31/2012)
    Completed Following up on the Assistant Secretary's June 26, 2012 directive regarding the evaluation for effectiveness of corrective actions identified in MSHA's internal and accountability reviews, OAASEI, in collaboration with Coal and Metal and Nonmetal, EPD and PEIR, revised the Accountability Program Handbook to include a requirement for the Office of Accountability reviews to evaluate the effectiveness of corrective actions taken to address previously identified issues, including issues identified during both internal and accountability reviews.

    This revision also addressed recommendations from the Office of Inspector General's (OIG) review of the accountability program. Specifically, the Accountability Program Handbook includes requirements for: 1) root cause analysis training for Office of Accountability and certain District staff assigned to conduct accountability reviews, and 2) district Corrective Action Plans to document the following:
  • The deficiency;
  • The root cause of the deficiency;
  • The proposed corrective actions;
  • The office or position responsible for implementing the corrective action;
  • The planned timeframe for completing each corrective action;
  • The method for determining success of the corrective action; and
  • A description of the documentation that will demonstrate closure of the corrective action.
  • The handbook was also revised to include a requirement for OAASEI to maintain an inventory of all identified deficiencies, root cause analyses and corrective actions. The OIG reviewed the draft Accountability Program Handbook, and OIG comments were incorporated into the final version of the handbook.

    The handbook was revised by December 31, 2012 and is scheduled to be published in February 2013.
    The Administrator for Coal should collaborate with the Director of OAASEI to provide a means for evaluation of the effectiveness of corrective actions for deficiencies identified in this report and in future accountability reviews. Where practical, these evaluations should include objective measurements of results and effects of the corrective actions. In cases where training is identified as a corrective action, knowledge checks or equivalent means should be conducted to ensure an adequate understanding of the material. In the "General Conclusions and Recommendations" section of the report, the Internal Review team has outlined an approach that could be used for evaluating the effectiveness of corrective actions implemented to address identified deficiencies. 90 Days
    After
    Inspector
    General
    Issues
    Its
    Report

    (12/31/2012)
    Completed Following up on the Assistant Secretary's June 26, 2012 directive regarding the evaluation for effectiveness of corrective actions identified in MSHA's internal and accountability reviews, OAASEI, in collaboration with Coal and Metal and Nonmetal, EPD and PEIR, revised the Accountability Program Handbook by:
  • Inserting requirements for Accountability Office reviews to evaluate the effectiveness of corrective actions taken to address previously identified issues; and
  • In cases where EPD develops and conducts training or develops on-line training that Coal and MNM use as corrective actions, including a requirement for knowledge checks to ensure an adequate understanding of the material.
  • In addition, and as outlined in the recommendation above concerning the evaluation of the implementation of corrective actions, OAASEI addressed recommendations from the OIG's review of the Accountability Program.

    The handbook was revised by December 31, 2012 and is scheduled to be published in February 2013.
    The Administrator for Coal should direct the following revisions to the General Coal Mine Inspection Procedures and Inspection Tracking System Handbook:
  • Define the salient parts of a regular inspection consistent with the requirements of subsections 103(a)(3) and (4) of the Mine Act.
  • Provide instruction on preparing ITS lists at the start of a regular inspection, and update them thereafter, to provide a complete list of salient items that need to be inspected. Inspection activities currently listed only in the Inspection Procedure Header Documentation tables should be incorporated into ITS lists in a manner that permits eliminating the former. The Handbook should explain that the purpose of the ITS includes planning and coordinating inspection activities, rather than proving their completion.
  • Provide instruction on obtaining, preparing, and maintaining regular inspection tracking maps. Inspectors should be directed to label MMUs and approved evaluation/measurement point locations on tracking maps. Inspectors should update the map to show the extent of mining when the MMU was inspected. Instruction to show the "extent of daily travels" on the map should be clarified to also direct inspectors to show travel start and stop points, the inspector's initials, and date of inspection. Where possible, the ITS should be streamlined to avoid duplication with the tracking map documentation. Line diagrams should not be used in lieu of tracking maps.
  • Define activities that ROE inspector trainees may perform at a mine before they receive their AR credentials.
  • 12/31/2012 Completed Following up on the Assistant Secretary's July 21, 2010 directive regarding the evaluation of enforcement policies and procedures used by inspectors in their inspection activities, Coal revised the Coal Mine Safety and Health General Inspection Procedures Handbook by:
  • Providing instruction on preparing ITS (Inspection Tracking System) lists at the start of a regular inspection, and updating them thereafter, to provide a complete list of items that need to be inspected. Inspection activities currently listed only in the Inspection Procedure Header Documentation tables have been incorporated into ITS lists. The revised handbook explains that the purpose of the ITS is to enhance MSHA's ability to determine inspection progress, fulfill established inspection procedures, and plan and coordinate inspection activities.
  • Providing instruction on obtaining, preparing, maintaining and using regular inspection tracking maps. The revised handbook states that "[a] tracking map shall be used to record the location of MMU(s) or name of section(s), approved evaluation/measuring points, and each air course inspected. During the course of inspection activities, inspectors are expected to re-inspect the mine map as needed to assure the maps are appropriately updated, changes documented, or noted as incomplete as compared to the actual mining activities." The revised handbook also clarifies instructions to show the "extent of daily travels" on the map to direct inspectors to show travel start and stop points, the inspector's initials, and date of inspection. The ITS has been streamlined to avoid duplication with the tracking map documentation. Line diagrams will no longer be accepted for tracking purposes.
  • Defining activities that ROE inspector trainees may perform in a mine before they receive their AR credentials.
  • The revised inspection handbook is designed to allow inspectors to more effectively conduct regular inspections consistent with the Mine Act.

    The handbook was revised by December 31, 2012 with final approval on January 29, 2013. The revised handbook is scheduled to go into effect by April 2013 once the appropriate training has been conducted.
    The Administrator for Coal should establish a procedure to update the list of records and postings contained in the General Coal Mine Inspection Procedures and Inspection Tracking System Handbook when new regulations require the operator to maintain additional records or postings. 12/31/2012 Completed Following up on the Assistant Secretary's July 21, 2010 directive regarding the evaluation of enforcement policies and procedures used by inspectors in their inspection activities, Coal revised the Coal Mine Safety and Health General Inspection Procedures Handbook to be updated when new regulations require the operator to maintain additional records or postings. MSHA has re-established a centralized directives management function to facilitate this process.

    The handbook was revised by December 31, 2012 with final approval on January 29, 2013. The revised handbook is scheduled to go into effect by April 2013 once the appropriate training has been conducted.
    The Administrator for Coal should collaborate with the Director of PEIR to revise the General Coal Mine Inspection Procedures and Inspection Tracking System Handbook to:
  • Include procedures for inspectors to use the Inspectors' Portable Application for Laptops (IPAL) to upload air sample collection data.
  • Define when inspectors are to collect TL air samples, consistent with guidance in the Coal Mine Safety and Health Supervisor's Handbook. In addition, guidance should address sample collection timing with respect to coal production and major air changes.
  • Define situations where more precise methods are to be used for measuring air velocity and provide instruction on how to take them.
  • Include checks for compliance with 30 CFR 75.400 and 75.403 in the listing of inspection activities that can be conducted during section 103(i) spot inspections at mines selected for such inspections due to excessive methane liberation, methane hazards, or ignitions.
  • Direct inspectors to review each item on the Mine Information Form for completeness and accuracy during a regular inspection. This should include instructions for when and how to update the form.
  • 12/31/2012 Completed Following up on the Assistant Secretary's July 21, 2010 directive regarding the evaluation of enforcement policies and procedures used by inspectors in their inspection activities, Coal, in collaboration with PEIR revised the Coal Mine Safety and Health General Inspection Procedures Handbook to:
  • Include procedures for inspectors to use IPAL to upload air sample collection data.
  • Define when inspectors are to collect total methane liberation (TL) air samples, consistent with the guidance in the Coal Mine Safety and Health Supervisor's Handbook. In addition, guidance addresses sample collection timing with respect to coal production and major air changes.
  • Define situations where more precise methods are to be used for measuring air velocity and providing instruction on how to take these measurements.
  • Include checks for compliance with 30 CFR 75.400 and 75.403 in the listing of inspection activities that can be conducted during section 103(i) spot inspections at mines selected for such inspections due to excessive methane liberation, methane hazards, or ignitions.
  • Direct inspectors to review each item on the Mine Information Form for completeness and accuracy during a regular inspection. The handbook also includes instructions on when and how to update the form.
  • PEIR also revised the IPAL User's Manual to include procedures for inspectors to upload air sample collection data into IPAL and instructions on filling out MSHA Form 2000-43, Mine Atmosphere Sample Record.

    The handbook was revised by December 31, 2012 with final approval on January 29, 2013. The revised handbook is scheduled to go into effect by April 2013 once the appropriate training has been conducted.
    The Administrators for Coal and Metal and Nonmetal should direct the revision of their general inspection procedure handbooks to move note-taking instructions related to enforcement actions to the Citation and Order Writing Handbook for Coal Mines and Metal and Nonmetal Mines. The Handbook should direct inspectors to document both the facts necessary for evaluating compliance, gravity, and negligence and the logic for deriving conclusions from the facts. Inspectors should identify in their notes the records (specific to the record type, dates, and relevant information from such records) used as a factor to determine negligence for each violation. 12/31/2012


























    12/31/2013
    Completed


























    In Progress
    Following up on the Assistant Secretary's July 21, 2010 directive regarding the evaluation of enforcement policies and procedures used by inspectors in their inspection activities, and to address part of this recommendation, the Administrator for Coal revised its general inspection procedures handbook to direct inspectors to document both the facts necessary for evaluating compliance, gravity, and negligence and the logic for deriving conclusions from the facts, and that inspectors should identify in their notes the records (specific to the record type, dates, and relevant information from such records) used as a factor to determine negligence for each violation.

    The handbook was revised by December 31, 2012 with final approval on January 29, 2013. The revised handbook is scheduled to go into effect by April 2013 once the appropriate training has been conducted. NOTE: Metal and Nonmetal's general inspection handbook already includes this information.

    Note-taking instructions related to enforcement actions will remain in the general inspection procedure handbooks until the Citation and Order Writing Handbook for Coal Mines and Metal and Nonmetal Mines is revised by December 31, 2013.
    The Administrator for Coal should revise the General Coal Mine Inspection Procedures and Inspection Tracking Handbook to include a statement that approved plans for the first panel in a longwall district are often unique. Inspectors should review these plans carefully and focus on compliance with these requirements during inspections of longwalls. 12/31/2012 Completed Following up on the Assistant Secretary's July 21, 2010 directive regarding the evaluation of enforcement policies and procedures used by inspectors in their inspection activities, the Administrator for Coal revised the Coal Mine Safety and Health General Inspection Procedures Handbook to include a statement that approved plans for the first panel in a longwall district are often unique and that inspectors should review these plans carefully and focus on compliance with these requirements during inspections of longwalls.

    The handbook was revised by December 31, 2012 with final approval on January 29, 2013. The revised handbook is scheduled to go into effect by April 2013 once the appropriate training has been conducted.

    MSHA Program Areas' Corrective Actions (As of September 30, 2012)


    Recommendation Date Due Status Corrective Action Taken
    The Administrator for Coal should collaborate with the Director of Technical Support and NIOSH to develop a standard method for collecting mine dust samples for operators and inspectors to use to determine compliance with 30 CFR 75.403. The Agency should consider recent research regarding sample collection methodology, including that related to sample depth and elevated surfaces. 6/1/2012 Completed On May 24, 2012, MSHA and NIOSH experts held an in-person meeting to discuss MSHA's proposed revised rock dust sampling method, which involves several substantial improvements from previous practice and meets the goal of the internal review recommendation. This proposed method takes into consideration recent research regarding sample collection methods, and MSHA is continuing to work with NIOSH on refining it.
    The Administrator for Coal should collaborate with the Director of Educational Policy and Development (EPD) to update the training programs for entry-level and journeyman inspectors to emphasize the value of a purposeful examination of training records and to guide inspectors on how to effectively determine compliance with Part 48 and other training requirements. The guidance in CMS&H Memo No. HQ-08-055-A that directs inspectors to question miners on their training related to roof control plans and document such information should also be addressed in this training. 6/30/2012 Completed On April 4, 2012, Educational Field Specialists (EFS) participated in a joint training program for District 4 and 12 inspectors, specialists, and management at the National Mine Health and Safety Academy. The EFS staff developed and delivered a program entitled: "Part 48.3 Enforcement, Training Plan Reviews and Miner Training." The training covered an overview of Part 48 and Part 48 inspection procedures and emphasized a purposeful examination of training records and guidance to inspectors on how to effectively determine compliance with Part 48 and other training requirements. The guidance in CMS&H Memo No. HQ-08-055-A was also addressed in the April training. The training program was distributed to all Coal districts. District personnel completed the training by June 29, 2012. EPD also developed two online annual refresher training courses covering Part 48 and Part 48 inspection procedures. These two online courses were made available through MSHA's internal distance learning system.
    The Administrator for Coal should direct the District 4 and 12 Managers to revise Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to ensure that both the Health and Ventilation Departments contribute to the correspondence sent to mine operators after each six-month ventilation plan review. 6/30/2012 Completed Districts 4 and 12 revised and implemented their ventilation SOPs to incorporate explicit provisions on inter-department communication, maintenance of correspondence files, and plan review documentation. This will ensure that both the Health and Ventilation Departments contribute to the correspondence sent to mine operators after each six-month ventilation plan review. District 4's SOP was issued and implemented on June 27, 2012. District 12's SOP was issued and implemented on June 28, 2012.
    The Administrator for Coal should direct the District 4 and 12 Managers to revise the technical department SOPs to provide for the review of each proposed plan or revision by appropriate technical departments to check for consistency with other plans approved for the mine. A method for documenting this process should be established. These SOPs should direct specialists to maintain a record of all written correspondence with mine operators regarding proposed plan reviews, particularly regarding changes to proposed plans submitted by operators during the review process. 6/30/2012 Completed Districts 4 and 12 revised and implemented their technical department SOPs to incorporate explicit provisions on inter-department communication, maintenance of correspondence files, and plan review documentation. Additionally, both district SOPs prohibit standalone Methane and Dust Control Plans and require them to be incorporated into a single mine ventilation plan. District 4's SOP was issued and implemented on June 27, 2012. District 12's SOP was issued and implemented on June 28, 2012.
    The Administrator for Coal should direct that training be provided to enforcement personnel, including supervisors and managers, to apply the policy during inspections of haulage ventilation controls.

    Note: The recommendation was intended to ensure that inspectors determine whether equipment doors are properly maintained during inspections of haulage ventilation controls.
    6/30/2012 Completed District 4 and 12 inspectors, specialists, and management were provided training on inspections of haulage ventilation controls including construction, maintenance, and equipment doors during the training sessions at the National Mine Health and Safety Academy on April 3 and 4, 2012. The training program was distributed to all Coal districts. District personnel completed the training by June 29, 2012.
    The Administrator for Coal should consult with district managers to determine whether the additional staffing is sufficient to address section 110(c) special investigation demands, particularly at highly noncompliant mines. 6/30/2012 Completed The Administrator for Coal discussed Special Investigations (SI) resources and consulted the district managers on staffing needs in their districts during a meeting on June 12, 2012. The Administrator and district managers reviewed the number of current full-time and collateral duty SI positions, temporary inter-district assignments, and ongoing investigations. The Administrator approved additional full-time and collateral duty SI positions in 6 districts.
    The Administrators for Coal and Metal and Nonmetal should consult with the Office of the Solicitor, Mine Safety and Health Division, to revise the Program Policy Manual to address actions by operators, their agents, or their employees that constitute advance notice of inspections for the purposes of section 103(a). The Manual explicitly should instruct that section 103(a) is violated when an operator impedes an inspection by giving advance notice of MSHA’s presence on mine property to outlying surface and underground facilities, regardless of whether the inspection already has commenced or whether the inspector explicitly has warned the operator against providing such notice. 6/30/2012














    12/31/2013
    Completed














    In Progress
    To address part of this recommendation, the Administrators for Coal and Metal and Nonmetal consulted with the Office of the Solicitor on May 10, 2012. On June 12, 2012, the Administrator for Coal instructed district managers regarding advance notice for purposes of Section 103(a) of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977. On August 26, 2010, and again on November 5, 2012, the Administrator for Metal and Nonmetal instructed district managers regarding advance notice for purposes of Section 103(a) of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977.

    Consistent with the Assistant Secretary's instructions to the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Operations to develop a draft centralized administrative review process for Directives, Coal will revise the Program Policy Manual to address actions that constitute advance notice of inspections.
    The Administrators for Coal and Metal and Nonmetal should re-instruct Family Liaisons to keep a log of significant events. The Administrators should direct revisions to the instructions in the Headquarters Mine Emergency Response Guidelines and the Accident/Illness Investigations Procedures Handbooks to clarify that notes should be recorded privately away from the areas where families are gathered and at a time that does not disrupt the interaction between the liaisons and the family members. 7/31/2012 Completed The Administrator for Coal through his district managers and assistant district managers instructed family liaisons to keep a log of significant events and clarified with them handbook instructions regarding their duties. This instruction was provided to all districts between June 8, 2012 and June 19, 2012. Metal and Nonmetal instructed its family liaisons between March 20, 2012 and March 23, 2012.
    The Administrators for Coal and Metal and Nonmetal, the Director of the Office of Assessments, Accountability, Special Enforcement, and Investigations (OAASEI), and the Director of Program Evaluation and Information Resources (PEIR) should collaborate in developing a management tool to monitor the resources districts devote to special investigations. 7/31/2012 Completed Coal, Metal and Nonmetal, OAASEI, and PEIR developed a management tool to monitor the resources districts devote to special investigations. This tool tracks the time supervisory, full-time, and collateral duty special investigators devote to special investigation activities and allows management to monitor personnel resources by program area, district, field office, and individual. This was completed on July 31, 2012.
    The Administrator for Coal should collaborate with the Director of EPD to provide training on the revised policies for District Health Department Supervisors, Assistant District ManagersTechnical, and other appropriate Coal personnel. This training should also include procedures for using the revised MSHA Form 2000-142.

    Note: In response to another recommendation, by May 31, 2012, the Administrator for Coal revised the Program Policy Manual provision governing the establishment of Mechanized Mining Unit (MMU) numbers under 30 CFR 70.207. This was posted on June 26, 2012 as a completed action. (See below)
    7/31/2012 Completed From July 24-26, 2012, the Coal Health Division, in collaboration with EPD, provided a three-day training session to coal health supervisors and health clerks on the revised health policies, MSHA Form 2000-142, and the new "Abatement Times for Respirable Dust Citations" report. The training took place at the National Mine Health and Safety Academy. The training in the districts was completed in August 2012. Additionally, EPD developed course content on the revised MSHA Form 2000-142 for training of potential supervisors.
    The Director of EPD should direct the revision of training programs for citation and order writing to reflect changes in policies and procedures. The training should be provided to all enforcement personnel, supervisors, and managers. Knowledge checks should be used to determine the effectiveness of the training. 7/31/2012










    6/30/2013
    Completed










    In Progress
    EPD developed a draft refresher on-line training course for inspectors on citation and order writing that was completed by July 31, 2012. The draft was sent to the Administrator for Coal and EPD staff for review. Final edits were completed and the course was finalized on September 13, 2012. Knowledge checks are being used to determine the effectiveness of the training.

    EPD is working with the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Operations to put a procedure in place ensuring that training programs for all enforcement personnel, supervisors, and managers incorporate training on citation and order writing, as well as all changes in new policies and procedures, including regulatory changes.
    The Director of PEIR should collaborate with the Administrator for Coal to revise the Mine Plan Approval (MPA) database system to track operator responses to MSHA requests for plan revisions. The Administrator should direct district managers to use MPA to identify overdue responses from operators and take appropriate actions. 8/3/2012 Completed PEIR collaborated with Coal to modify the Mine Plan Approval (MPA) database system to track operator responses to MSHA requests for plan revisions. The modifications were deployed on August 3, 2012.

    On August 30, 2012, the Administrator for Coal directed district managers to use the MPA database system to identify overdue responses from operators and take appropriate actions.

    NOTE: The recommendation also provided that the Administrator for Coal should direct District 4 and 12 managers to develop and follow a process for ensuring that operators submit revised plans when requested, and taking appropriate enforcement actions when operators fail to do so. This recommendation was satisfied by PEIR's development of the online tool for use by districts for tracking plan due dates.
    The Administrator for Coal should collaborate with the Director of EPD to revise the curriculum at the National Mine Health and Safety Academy regarding inspection procedures for evaluating operator compliance with examination standards. The training should explain the purpose and utilization of an inspector's review of mine examination records. This training should be provided to entry-level inspectors, journeyman inspectors, specialists, supervisors, and assistant district managers. The training should provide instructions on:
  • determining whether adequate examinations have been conducted;

  • determining whether the operator has recorded in the examination book the specific corrective action taken to eliminate the hazard;

  • identifying incomplete records of examinations, including missing air quantities and air quality measurements;

  • using examination records to aid in the enforcement of 30 CFR 75.360, 75.362, 75.363, and 75.364;

  • traveling with and evaluating at least one preshift examiner, one on-shift examiner, and one weekly examiner during each regular inspection;

  • determining whether the operator conducted on-shift examinations of dust control parameters; and

  • using examination records in the evaluation of the operator's negligence for violations of other safety and health standards.
  • 8/31/2012 Completed EPD, in collaboration with Coal, revised the curriculum regarding inspection procedures for evaluating operator compliance with examination standards. The training also explained the purpose and utilization of an inspector's review of mine examination records. The training provides instructions on each of the items contained in this recommendation and will continue to be included in the journeyman, specialist, supervisory, and entry-level training.

    Coal provided training on this topic during the District 4 and 12 training sessions at the National Mine Health and Safety Academy on April 3 and 4, 2012. To better administratively manage the Agency workload, in May 2012, the expected completion date of the training was extended to September 30, 2012 so district-wide training could occur at the same time as training on other internal review recommendations. District personnel completed this training by September 30, 2012.
    The Assistant Secretary should instruct the Directors of EPD and Technical Support to develop and provide advanced technical training on longwall mining equipment. This training should be provided to MSHA regular inspectors who are qualified electricians and electrical specialists Agency-wide. 9/1/2012 Completed On April 3 and 4, 2012, District 4 and 12 inspectors, specialists, and management were provided training on longwall electrical permissibility. The training took place at the National Mine Health and Safety Academy. The training program was distributed to all Coal districts. To better administratively manage the Agency workload, in May 2012, the expected completion date of the training was extended to September 30, 2012 so this training could occur at the same time as training on other internal review recommendations. District personnel completed this training by September 30, 2012.

    In addition, the updates have been incorporated into all training programs relating to electrical inspections of longwall mining equipment.
    The Administrator for Coal should direct that training be provided to supervisors on using standard oversight reports to ensure inspectors have valid reasons for not collecting (rock dust) samples, including visiting some areas that inspectors indicated were too wet to sample. 9/30/2012 Completed The National Mine Health and Safety Academy held a three-day training session for Coal supervisors in August 2012. The training, in part, stressed the importance of rock dusting to prevent coal mine dust explosions and included instructions on the proper use of the rock dust database and using sampling oversight reports to ensure inspectors have valid reasons for not collecting rock dust samples, including visiting some areas that inspectors indicated were too wet to sample.

    The Administrator for Coal also directed all field office supervisors to review PowerPoint presentations on the utilization of the rock dust database and the importance of maintaining the incombustible content of rock dust mine-wide. Field office personnel completed the training by September 30, 2012.
    The Administrator for Coal and the Director of EPD should develop a training program for temporarily promoted supervisors to address pertinent parts of the Coal Mine Safety and Health Supervisor's Handbook. This training should include a knowledge check. Consideration should be given to utilizing distance learning options. In addition, guidelines should be developed for assistant district managers to provide the level of oversight necessary for work groups with inexperienced acting field office supervisors. 9/30/2012 Completed Coal and EPD developed a distance learning training course with a knowledge check for temporarily promoted supervisors. This course covers key materials and responsibilities individuals will need after assuming a new supervisory position. EPD finalized the course on September 27, 2012.

    In addition, the Administrator for Coal provided uniform guidance to all district managers and assistant district managers to provide acting field office supervisors with the level of oversight necessary to manage their work groups on a temporary basis. The guidance will be included in each District's SOP for training newly promoted field office supervisors.
    The Assistant Secretary should instruct the Director of PEIR to develop, to the extent possible, fillable forms to be used by inspectors when completing approved forms as part of an inspection or investigation. These fillable forms should be incorporated into the Inspectors' Portable Application for Laptops (IPAL) application to allow the inspector to interact with the directives system in a seamless, user-friendly fashion. 9/30/2012 Completed PEIR successfully developed fillable forms for inspectors to use when completing approved forms as part of an inspection or investigation.

    On September 27, 2012, PEIR incorporated fillable forms to be used by inspectors into IPAL. The forms are pre-populated with information from the IPAL database automatically or will populate the rest of the fields based on information entered by the inspector. This will save time by limiting the number of forms that must be filled out manually, while allowing the inspector to interact with the directives system in a seamless, user-friendly fashion.
    The Administrator for Coal should direct the revision of the Coal Mine Safety and Health Supervisor's Handbook to provide supervisors with a list of fundamental procedures for reviewing enforcement actions. The Handbook also should direct assistant district managers to routinely review a representative number of enforcement actions for conformity to these procedures. Managers should review a representative number of extensions to citations to ensure that inspectors provide specific reasons for extending termination due times that give primary consideration to the health and safety of miners and are not for the convenience of the mine operator or MSHA. 9/30/2012











    12/31/2013
    Completed











    In Progress
    To address part of this recommendation, Coal regularly provides oversight to supervisors and managers on how to properly review inspection reports and enforcement actions. At the same time, managers and supervisors are instructed regarding extensions for abatement to ensure that any extension granted is warranted. PEIR provides monthly reports alerting Coal to citations that may have not been abated on a timely basis.

    Consistent with the Assistant Secretary's instructions to the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Operations to develop a draft centralized administrative review process for Directives, Coal will revise the Coal Mine Safety and Health Supervisor's Handbook to provide supervisors with a list of procedures for reviewing enforcement actions.
    The Director of Technical Support should collaborate with the Director of PEIR to complete planned upgrades to the National Air and Dust Laboratory to replace outdated equipment and computer systems and integrate the Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) into the MSHA enterprise database. 12/31/2012 Completed Technical Support and PEIR collaborated to complete planned upgrades to the National Air and Dust Laboratory (NADL). This included increased staffing, physical renovations to the facility, new equipment, updated computer systems, and integration of the LIMS into the MSHA enterprise database (MSIS). MSHA inspectors are now able to upload air sample data directly from their laptop computers (through MSIS) to the LIMS instead of having to manually fill out Mine Atmosphere Sample Record cards. The air samples are then routed to the lab for analysis. The redesigned system eliminates duplicate data entry, allows for improved data entry validation, and provides the foundation for better management of sample data through enforcement and oversight reports.

    The upgrades to the NADL have resulted in reduced turn-around times for air sample analysis with further improvements expected. The NADL will pursue laboratory accreditation by a nationally recognized body in the future.

    MSHA Program Areas' Corrective Actions (As of June 26, 2012)

    Recommendation Date Due Status Corrective Action Taken
    The Director of PEIR should complete revisions to IPAL to provide data-entry validation and permit inspectors to upload air sample collection data directly to the enterprise database for integration with the LIMS. (Section 103(i) Inspections) 3/31/2012 Completed PEIR completed the recommended data-entry and upload revisions to the Inspectors' Portable Application for Laptops (IPAL) on March 22, 2012. The automated rules will improve the quality of the data in the air sample database while reducing the data-entry workload.
    The Director of PEIR should direct modifications to IPAL to automatically insert the following statement into the Condition or Practice for each section 104(d) action: "This violation is an unwarrantable failure to comply with a mandatory standard." 3/31/2012 Completed PEIR deployed IPAL version 3.0.12 on March 22, 2012 to address this recommendation. IPAL now appends the text "This violation is an unwarrantable failure to comply with a mandatory standard" to the Condition or Practice section of a citation or order form when an inspector cites an unwarrantable failure violation. This allows the inspector to automatically comply with section 104(d)(1) of the Mine Act which requires the inspector to include such finding when citing an unwarrantable failure violation.
    The Administrator for Coal should consider whether it is appropriate to store serial numbers and the section/location designations for each MMU in the MSHA enterprise database. 4/18/2012 Completed In April 2012, the Administrator for Coal revised the Program Policy Manual provision governing the establishment of Mechanized Mining Unit (MMU) numbers under 30 CFR 70.207. The revised policy provides that the reduced respirable dust standard, due to the presence of quartz, will not change when the operator changes equipment on a mining section. The Administrator for Coal determined that the revised policy makes it unnecessary to store the individual mining machine serial numbers in the respirable coal mine dust database.
    The Director of EPD should evaluate the feasibility of requiring a representative number of independent contractor training classes to be monitored by EFS. 4/30/2012 Completed The Director of Educational Policy and Development (EPD) determined that it was feasible to require a representative number of independent contractor training classes be monitored by Educational Field Services (EFS). The Administrator for Coal issued a memorandum to the District Managers with instructions for mine operators, contractors, and contract trainers to provide notification of training under Part 48 to EPD. EPD established an email address for the mining industry to use to provide their upcoming training schedules. This will give EPD training specialists the opportunity to monitor training classes.
    The Administrator for Coal should direct that District 4 and 12 managers reinforce MSHA policy and procedure concerning standards that can be cited as section 104(g)(1) training orders and on records that must be inspected to ensure that an operator is providing all required training. 4/30/2012 Completed This recommendation was addressed during the District 4 and 12 training sessions at the National Mine Health and Safety Academy on April 3 and 4, 2012. This training will also be provided to all Coal districts.

    Enforcement personnel were instructed that MSHA policy only allows violations of 30 CFR 48.5, 48.6, 48.7, 48.8, and 48.11 to be cited under section 104(g)(1) of the Mine Act for untrained miners at underground mines.

    Enforcement personnel also were trained on records that must be inspected to ensure that an operator is providing all required training. This includes checking training records for AMS operators, responsible persons, and persons who sample atmospheres behind seals.
    The Administrator for Coal should direct the District 4 and 12 Managers to reinstruct inspectors in the General Coal Mine Inspection Procedures and Inspection Tracking System Handbook directive to check and document checking Part 50 records during every regular inspection. The District Managers should hold inspection supervisors accountable for enforcing compliance with this directive. 4/30/2012 Completed This recommendation was addressed during the District 4 and 12 training sessions at the National Mine Health and Safety Academy on April 3 and 4, 2012. This training will also be provided to all Coal districts.

    Inspectors were reinstructed to review required records and postings, including Mine Accident, Injury, and Illness Reports (MSHA Form 7000-1) and Quarterly Employment and Coal Production Reports (MSHA Form 7000-2) during each regular inspection. This will help identify mine operators that routinely underreport or inaccurately report accidents, injuries, illnesses, employment, and production.

    The District Managers were instructed to hold supervisors accountable for enforcing compliance with this directive.
    The Administrator for Coal should collaborate with the Directors of EPD and Technical Support to provide refresher training for District 4 and 12 regular inspectors to assure they have appropriate skills to ensure uniform recognition of electrical violations. 4/30/2012 Completed The Electrical Safety Division of Technical Support provided refresher training on the recognition of electrical violations to regular inspectors during the District 4 and 12 training sessions at the National Mine Health and Safety Academy on April 3 and 4, 2012. This training will also be provided to all Coal districts.
    The Administrator for Coal should direct the District 4 and 12 Managers to provide inspectors and specialists with training to ensure that six-month reviews are conducted and documented in accordance with the Mine Ventilation Plan Approval Procedures Handbook. District managers should monitor the six-month reviews after the training is completed to verify its effectiveness and take follow-up corrective action if necessary. 4/30/2012 Completed The Coal Safety Division provided training on the procedures outlined in the Mine Ventilation Plan Approval Procedures Handbook regarding six-month plan reviews to all inspectors and specialists during the District 4 and 12 training sessions at the National Mine Health and Safety Academy on April 3 and 4, 2012 to help ensure that the in-mine physical inspection of the mine ventilation system is properly conducted and documented. This training will also be provided to all Coal districts.

    District Managers were instructed to monitor the six-month reviews to verify their effectiveness and take follow-up corrective action if necessary.
    The Administrator for Coal should direct staff to monitor the implementation of new regulations to ensure districts enforce the provisions of final rules within the effective dates specified. 4/30/2012 Completed The Administrator for Coal directed staff to monitor the implementation of new regulations to ensure districts enforce the provisions of final rules within the effective dates specified. This will be tracked through Field Activity Reviews, Accompanied Activities, Second Level Reviews, and District Peer Reviews.
    The Administrator for Coal should direct the District 4 and 12 Managers to revise the roof control plan SOP to comply with the established Program Policy Manual requirements as identified by the OIG report. 4/30/2012 Completed Districts 4 and 12 revised the roof control plan SOPs to comply with the established Program Policy Manual requirements as identified by the OIG report and to address deficiencies identified in the Internal Review report. The SOPs were revised to check that required information is submitted, check for communication with other plan approval groups, assure that designated MSHA personnel contact the operator for additional information, and discuss results of on-site evaluations with the operator and identified miners' representatives.
    The Administrator for Coal should direct the District 4 and 12 Managers to provide training to inspectors and specialists regarding the use of the required checklists and proper documentation of six-month plan reviews. (Roof Control) 4/30/2012 Completed The Coal Safety Division provided training on the six-month reviews of roof control plans as required by 30 CFR 75.223(d) to all inspectors and specialists during the District 4 and 12 training sessions at the National Mine Health and Safety Academy on April 3 and 4, 2012. This will help ensure that the in-mine physical evaluation of the roof control plan is properly conducted and documented. This training will also be provided to all Coal districts.
    The Administrator for Coal should direct the District 4 and 12 Managers to ensure that the six-month reviews of roof control plans for complex mines be conducted by roof control specialists. When deemed appropriate, complex mine plans should continue to be forwarded to Technical Support for evaluation. 4/30/2012 Completed MSHA issued Procedure Instruction Letter No. I11-V-1 on January 25, 2011 to provide guidance on when six-month reviews of complex roof control plans should be forwarded to Technical Support for evaluation.

    The Coal Safety Division provided training on the six-month reviews of roof control plans as required by 30 CFR 75.223(d) to all inspectors and specialists during the District 4 and 12 training sessions at the National Mine Health and Safety Academy on April 3 and 4, 2012. This included guidance that reviews of plans for complex mines should be completed by roof control specialists or forwarded to Technical Support when appropriate. This training will also be provided to all Coal districts.
    The Administrator for Coal should direct the District 4 and District 12 managers to require their SSIs to prepare and maintain a memorandum detailing the reasons for not conducting a special investigation in cases where the district manager decides to take no further action, in accordance with the Special Investigations Procedures Handbook. 4/30/2012 Completed The Technical Compliance and Investigations Office (TCIO) of the Office of Assessments, Accountability, Special Enforcement, and Investigations (OAASEI) provided training on special investigations during the District 4 and 12 training sessions at the National Mine Health and Safety Academy on April 3 and 4, 2012. The training included specific instructions to prepare and maintain a memorandum detailing the reasons for not conducting a special investigation when the district manager decides to take no further action, in accordance with the Special Investigations Procedures Handbook. This training will also be provided to all Coal districts.
    The Administrator for Coal should direct that training be provided to District 4 and 12 inspectors, specialists, supervisors, assistant district managers, and other appropriate personnel on proper procedures for conducting, documenting, and reviewing MSHA respirable dust surveys. 4/30/2012 Completed The Coal Health Division provided training on proper procedures for conducting, documenting, and reviewing MSHA respirable dust surveys during the District 4 and 12 training sessions at the National Mine Health and Safety Academy on April 3 and 4, 2012. This training will also be provided to all Coal districts.
    The Administrator for Coal should direct the District 4 and 12 Managers to conduct follow-up reviews of inspection reports to evaluate the effectiveness of training provided and take appropriate corrective actions for any deficiencies identified. 4/30/2012 Completed The Internal Review report concluded that supervisors did not always identify or require corrections to inspection deficiencies. This topic was addressed during the District 4 and 12 training sessions at the National Mine Health and Safety Academy on April 3 and 4, 2012. District 4 and 12 Managers were directed to conduct follow-up reviews of inspection reports to evaluate the effectiveness of all training provided and take appropriate corrective actions for any deficiencies identified.
    The Administrator for Coal should direct revisions to MSHA Form 2000-142 to eliminate the reference "Headquarters Only" for Item 7C and to require the serial number of the mining machine(s) and an explicit reference to the section or location in the mine for each MMU to be recorded for Item 11. 5/30/2012 Completed The Administrator for Coal directed revisions to MSHA Form 2000-142 ("MMU/DA/DWP Data") to eliminate the reference "Headquarters Only" for Item 7C. This form is used when assigning new MMUs or updating existing MMUs. The Coal Health Division instructed district personnel that the applicable dust standard can be manually adjusted to maintain a reduced dust standard when the operator changes equipment on a mining section. MSHA distributed the revised form to inspectors via the IPAL Computer Resources program.

    The revised Program Policy Manual (April 2012) provides guidance on recording the MMU location in the re-engineered health computer system. The Administrator for Coal determined that recording the specific MMU location makes it unnecessary to record individual mining machine serial numbers.
    The Director of PEIR should develop and implement a standard report to track abatement times for respirable dust violations, and the Administrator for Coal should direct the Health Division to use the report to monitor district performance. 5/30/2012 Completed PEIR developed and implemented a standard report to track abatement times for respirable dust violations. The "Abatement Times for Respirable Dust Citations" report allows managers and enforcement personnel to track respirable dust violations from issuance to termination to reduce miners' exposure to respirable coal mine dust. The Administrator for Coal directed the Health Division via memorandum to monitor district performance.
    The Administrator for Coal should consider removing the Health/Safety/Other block from the Mine Citation/Order Form. The Administrator also should consider revising the Citation and Order Writing Handbook for Coal Mines and Metal and Nonmetal Mines to remove the direction for Coal inspectors to complete this field. The Director of PEIR should make corresponding changes to the Inspectors' Portable Application for Laptops (IPAL) data input screen. 9/30/2012 Completed The Administrator for Coal believes it is beneficial to include the Health/Safety/Other block on the Mine Citation/Order Form. Removing this block would require enforcement personnel to read the Condition or Practice for each citation to determine whether the violation is health-related. The Administrator for Coal reminded the Coal districts to check the appropriate blocks on the Mine Citation/Order Form.
    The Administrator for Coal should direct the revision of the Program Policy Manual to apply reduced respirable dust standards, including those from deactivated MMUs, to other MMUs working in the same section of the mine with similar mining equipment, until sampling establishes a new standard. 6/30/2013 Completed In April 2012, the Administrator for Coal revised the Program Policy Manual provision governing the establishment of Mechanized Mining Unit (MMU) numbers under 30 CFR 70.207. The revised policy provides that the reduced respirable dust standard, due to the presence of quartz, will not change when the operator changes equipment on a mining section.



    MSHA Assistant Secretary's Corrective Actions (December 31, 2013)

    Assistant Secretarys Corrective Actions

    The Internal Review recommendations included a number of matters for the Assistant Secretary to consider, such as mine emergency response. The Assistant Secretary has taken a number of actions to address these recommendations.

    Remaining Recommendations for the Assistant Secretary:

    1. (As outlined in the May 11, 2011, Memorandum of Agreement with the Interstate Mining Compact Commission) continue to pursue Memoranda of Agreements with states having enforcement agencies or state-sponsored mine rescue teams for the mining industry. These Memoranda of Agreement should focus on the cooperation of federal and state agencies during a mine emergency operation, including an agreement that agencies will not act independently.

    2. Instruct the Administrators for Coal and Metal and Nonmetal to direct the revision of the Mine Rescue Instruction Guide to require a firewall to prevent personnel who have had personal contact with family members from participating in command center decisions.

    3. Request NIOSH to develop a method to identify operators or mines for Part 50 Audits. Potential criteria could include compliance records of operators, hazardous condition complaints, respirable dust issues and allegations of underreporting.

    4. Direct the completion and implementation of his succession plan already in development. The plan should address required staffing levels and projected attrition to ensure that the Agency can effectively fulfill its enforcement responsibilities under the Mine Act. The plan also should identify the level of staffing necessary to maintain a core of fully trained and experienced inspectors. This plan should explore the feasibility of enabling double-encumbering enforcement positions.

    5. Consider rulemaking on a number of Upper Big Branch-related issues, such as rock dusting, ventilation, mine examinations, certified persons and MSHA-approved instructors. These recommendations are located in the Internal Review Report, including in Appendices A and C. The Report can be found at: http://www.msha.gov/PerformanceCoal/UBBInternalReview/UBBInternalReviewReport.pdf.

    Actions of the Assistant Secretary:

    Mine Emergency Response

    In early 2010, Assistant Secretary Main launched an effort to reform mine emergency response. In May of 2010, MSHA held the first of a number of summits with stakeholders to identify gaps in mine emergency response and the improvements that would be necessary to fill these gaps. MSHA also hosted meetings with various sectors of the mine rescue and emergency response community, including meetings held with mine rescue team stakeholders at national mine rescue contests.

    In addition, MSHA held meetings with the Interstate Mining Compact Commission on identifying and filling mine emergency response gaps, as well as on coordination between MSHA and state authorities during mine emergencies. The Interstate Mining Compact Commission is a multistate governmental agency/organization that represents the natural resource and related environmental protection interests of more than 20 states, including a number of mining states.

    Assistant Secretary Main convened a panel of experts for a Mine Rescue Summit at the National Mine Health and Safety Academy on May 7 and May 8, 2012 to address critical mine emergency topics, including those raised by the Upper Big Branch internal review:

  • Command center operations
  • Command center personnel and family contacts
  • Improving and preserving mine rescue programs
  • Body recovery and use of the special medical response teams
  • Preparation for mine emergencies and prevention of mine emergencies
  • Refuge chambers and how they impact mine rescue operations
  • Promoting use of improved technology for mine rescue
  • Mine rescue training
  • Skills training and facilities
  • Briefings/Debriefings
  • The attendees also discussed the latest improvements in mine rescue, the remaining gaps in mine emergency response and preparedness and the need to create a national organization to support mine rescue and develop uniform guidance for mine rescue events. In addition, they identified what further actions would be needed to ensure a swift and comprehensive response from government, industry and others in the event of a mine emergency.

    On December 12, 2012 a final national Mine Rescue Summit was convened by Assistant Secretary Main at the MSHA Academy to develop a path forward for mine emergency response. This included a plan to involve all mine emergency stakeholders in creating a national organization through the Holmes Safety Association to support mine rescue and provide guidance on emergency response.

    On June 6, 2013 the Joseph A. Holmes Safety Association voted to amend its constitution and change its bylaws to create the Joseph A. Holmes Mine Rescue Association within Holmes Safety. On October 29 and 30, 2013 the new entity held its first meeting to select its leadership and begin its operations. More information on Holmes Mine Rescue can be found at: http://www.msha.gov/programs/jah/HMRA/HMRA.asp.

    The Assistant Secretary has also considered the Internal Reviews recommendation to restrict MSHA officials who have contact with family members from participating in command center decisions and has determined that such action would not be in the best interest of mine safety and mine rescue efforts.

    When a mine emergency occurs, MSHA has a number of responsibilities. It must provide guidance and oversight of the event for the safety of those at risk, communicate with family members and interact with the public through the news media, public officials and others. Individuals with expertise in managing these critical aspects of a mine emergency should not be unnecessarily prohibited from carrying out those responsibilities.

    Succession Planning

    The Agency has developed its succession plan and is implementing its provisions. In addition, each program area has developed and is implementing its own Hiring and Succession and Leadership plans. These plans will be updated as part of the succession planning process.

    Part 50 Auditing and Reports

    MSHA has been assessing and revising its Part 50 reporting and audit requirements, including at mines identified as potential pattern of violations mines under section 104(e) of the Mine Act. Each mine that meets all but the criteria for a Pattern of Violation mine during the screening of data except for the injury and illness rates is subject to a Part 50 audit. MSHA is also evaluating other methods including through the Department of Labor evaluation resources.

    Rulemaking Recommendations

    MSHA has engaged in a number of rulemaking activities related to the rulemaking recommendations of the Internal Review.

    On September 23, 2010, MSHA published an emergency temporary standard (75 FR 57849) adopting NIOSHs recommendation that increased the total incombustible content of coal mine dust to 80% to prevent coal mine explosions. In June, 2011, MSHA published its final rule (76 FR 35968), which requires all underground coal mine operators to meet the 80% total incombustible content standard. MSHA believes the rule will help prevent coal dust fueled explosions.

    In collaboration with NIOSH, MSHA also developed a new method for collecting rock dust samples that inspectors would use to determine compliance with the rock dust standard. MSHA coal inspectors began to use this method when the newly-revised General Coal Mine Inspection Procedures and Inspection Tracking Handbook went into effect in April, 2013.

    In addition, on October 19, 2010, MSHA proposed a rule entitled: Lowering Miners Exposure to Respirable Dust Including Continuous Personal Dust Monitors. This regulatory action is part of MSHAs Comprehensive Black Lung Reduction Strategy for reducing miners exposure to respirable dust; the strategy includes enhanced enforcement, education and training and health outreach and collaboration.

    On April 6, 2012, MSHA published its final examination rule (77 FR 20700) revising its requirements for preshift, supplemental, on-shift, and weekly examinations of underground coal mines. The rule requires mine operators to identify and correct hazardous conditions and violations of nine health and safety standards that pose the greatest risk to miners, including the kinds of conditions that led to the deadly explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine in April 2010.

    As per MSHAs Fall 2013 Agenda, MSHA plans to publish a proposed rule to revise the process for proposing civil penalties in 30 CFR Part 100.

    In addition, the agency is initiating a new regulatory action that would address recommendations from the accident investigation into the causes of the explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine, as well as recommendations from the internal review of the Agencys actions leading up to the explosion. The Fall, 2013 Agenda states that MSHA expects to address issues associated with rock dusting, ventilation, the operators responsibility for certain mine examinations and certified persons.

    While all of this rulemaking activity is ongoing, MSHA has acted quickly to establish policies related to the ventilation, rockdusting and other issues raised by the Upper Big Branch explosion. These include Program Information Bulletins (PIBs) published in 2010 on inadequate ventilation (PIB10-10); maintaining face ventilation on control devices (PIB10-11); maintaining methane monitors in permissible and proper operating condition (PIB10-12); intentional changes in ventilation systems (PIB10-13); and accumulation of combustible materials and rock dust (PIB10-18). In 2013, MSHA issued a PIB (PIB13-01) to advise the underground coal mining community that NIOSH recently published a report on the Coal Dust Explosibility Meter (CDEM). The PIB also encourages mine operators to collect and measure mine dust samples to verify sufficient application of rock dust in underground coal mines and states that the CDEM may be used to measure the potential explosibility of coal mine dusts.

    In 2010, MSHA also published PIBs on other critical issues raised as a result of the Upper Big Branch mine explosion, such as the clarification of MSHAs policy and regulations related to self-contained self-rescuers (PIB 10-14); the prohibition against advance notice of 101(a) inspections (PIB10-15); hazardous condition complaints and the right to request inspections (PIB10-16); and miners protection against discrimination and procedures to protect those rights (PIB10-17).

    Moreover, since 2011, MSHA has issued a number of Program Policy Letters (PPLs) on a clarification of the requirements for tests for methane at the working face (P13-V-06) published in 2013; the maintenance of cutting bits on continuous mining machines and longwall shearers (P13-V-03) also issued in 2013; reporting unplanned roof falls (P12-V-03) issued in 2012; MSHAs policy for determining the location of the 2.0 percent methane limit in a bleeder split of air (P12-V-08) published in 2012; and bleeder examinations in accordance with weekly and preshift examination requirements (P12-V-05) also issued in 2012.

    MSHA Assistant Secretary's Corrective Actions (As of March 31, 2013)

    Recommendation Status Corrective Action Taken
    The Assistant Secretary should consider making some EFS specialists ARs to assist in the inspection of training records and establish protocol for coordinating with district managers to provide these services when needed. Completed The Assistant Secretary considered the recommendation to make some EFS specialists ARs as recommended by the Internal Review report and determined that the role of EFS training specialists should not be changed to include enforcement authority. Inspectors, as part of their regular inspections, review training records. EFS training specialists assist enforcement personnel by conducting evaluations of training programs. If an EFS review uncovers noncompliance issues, this information is forwarded to the district manager for appropriate enforcement action.
    The Assistant Secretary should instruct the Director of EPD to provide resources to assist CMS&H by conducting additional Part 50 Audits. The Assistant Secretary should consider making some EFS specialists ARs to enable them to conduct audits independently of CMS&H inspectors. Completed The Assistant Secretary considered the recommendation to make some EFS specialists ARs as recommended by the Internal Review report and determined that the role of EFS training specialists should not be changed to include enforcement authority. EFS specialists have a long history of working successfully within the mining industry, without having enforcement authority. While the enforcement and EFS roles are different, they complement each other as they are now structured, and their responsibilities are both important in ensuring miners receive necessary and effective training. The Assistant Secretary agrees that some EFS specialists should continue to provide resources to assist inspectors conduct Part 50 audits upon request as they have in the past.

    MSHA Assistant Secretary's Corrective Actions (As of September 30, 2012)

    Recommendation Status Corrective Action Taken
    The Assistant Secretary should convene a panel of mine rescue experts from industry, state and federal government, labor, and academia to review, refine, and develop mine rescue and recovery protocol to address lessons learned from the UBB disaster. The panel should also consider the conditions and events surrounding other recent mine accidents, including events occurring in other countries. The panel should include mine rescue team members or trainers. Completed MSHA held the Mine Rescue Summit at the National Mine Health and Safety Academy on May 7 and 8, 2012. Nearly 150 people participated during the two-day event, which was planned to coincide with the West Virginia Alliance Mine Rescue Skills Contest. Assistant Secretary Main convened a panel of experts at the Summit to address critical mine rescue emergency topics, including:
  • Command center operations

  • Command center personnel and family contacts

  • Improving and preserving mine rescue programs

  • Body recovery and use of the special medical response team

  • Preparation for mine emergencies and prevention of mine emergencies

  • Refuge chambers and how they impact mine rescue operations

  • Promoting use of improved technology for mine rescue

  • Mine rescue training

  • Skills training and facilities

  • Briefings/Debriefings

  • Whether to require a "firewall" to prevent personnel who have had contact with family members from participating in command center decisions
  • On July 11, 2012, MSHA held a stakeholder meeting concerning mine rescue contests, mine rescue guidance, and other matters. MSHA is in the process of establishing a mechanism where mine emergency guidance and best practices can be updated on an ongoing basis.
    The Assistant Secretary should reestablish the functionality and improve the utility of the MSHA Directives System. Completed On February 23, 2012, the Assistant Secretary assigned the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Operations the responsibility for developing a centralized administrative review process for updating and monitoring all of MSHA's Directives and the Directives System so that MSHA's enforcement and other personnel are well informed and MSHA programs operate in a fair and consistent manner. Procedures are being developed that will monitor policy development, evaluate the Directives for need, consistency and impact on the Agency, and facilitate the activities of the policy coordinators from all MSHA programs.
    The Assistant Secretary should direct the revision of the Administrative Policy and Procedures Manual (APPM) to incorporate Administrative Policy Letter A11-I-01 which established policies and procedures for required continuing education of ARs. In addition, the APPM should be revised to include a permanent requirement for two-week biannual training for field office supervisors. Newly-selected supervisors should be provided this training at the earliest possible date. Completed The Assistant Secretary directed staff to incorporate Administrative Policy Letter (APL) A11-1-01, which establishes policies and procedures for required continuing education for Authorized Representatives (ARs) into the Administrative Policy and Procedures Manual (APPM) no later than December 31, 2013. This includes permanent requirements for two-week biannual training for field office supervisors and to provide that training to newly-selected supervisors at the earliest possible date.
    The Assistant Secretary should direct the Office of Assessments, Accountability, Special Enforcement and Investigations to evaluate implementation of corrective actions resulting from internal reviews during each annual District Review. Completed The Assistant Secretary directed staff to develop a means for evaluating the effectiveness of corrective actions identified in the Agency's internal reviews and accountability reviews. The Office of Assessments, Accountability, Special Enforcement, and Investigations (OAASEI) will take the lead in developing this process and in revising the Accountability Handbook to include a requirement that OAASEI evaluate the effectiveness of corrective actions to address previously identified issues. This should be in draft form and to the Assistant Secretary by September 30, 2012 for review and approval.
    The Assistant Secretary should instruct the Directors of EPD and Technical Support to develop and provide advanced technical training on longwall mining equipment. This training should be provided to MSHA regular inspectors who are qualified electricians and electrical specialists Agency-wide. Completed To address deficiencies in the technical skills required to inspect longwall equipment, the Assistant Secretary directed staff to develop, by September 30, 2012, advanced technical training on longwall mining equipment for electrical specialists and regular inspectors who are qualified electricians, as well as a schedule to implement the training.
    The Assistant Secretary should instruct the Director of PEIR to develop, to the extent possible, fillable forms to be used by inspectors when completing approved forms as part of an inspection or investigation. These fillable forms should be incorporated into the IPAL application to allow the inspector to interact with the directives system in a seamless, user-friendly fashion. Completed To aid inspectors and allow them to interact with the Directives System in a "seamless, user-friendly fashion," the Assistant Secretary directed staff to develop, to the extent possible, fillable forms to be used when completing approved forms as part of an inspection or investigation. The completion of this project should coincide with the December 31, 2012 completion of the revised Coal Mine Inspectors' Handbook.