Wearing head-lamps to light their way through this coal mine, this historic image, provided by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), depicted three miners as they were strategizing their next move. Note that none of the men was wearing and protective filtered breathing devices, which is now protocol under such circumstances. Unfortunately, some mine operators still operate as if it’s 1960.
MSHA’s monthly special impact inspections, which began in force in April 2010 following the explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine, involve mines that merit increased agency attention and enforcement due to their poor compliance history or particular compliance concerns. These concerns include high numbers of violations or closure orders; frequent hazard complaints or hotline calls; plan compliance issues; inadequate workplace examinations; a high number of accidents, injuries or illnesses; fatalities; adverse conditions such as increased methane liberation, faulty roof conditions and inadequate ventilation; and respirable dust.
“We continue to identify operators who have not gotten the message,” said Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. “Exposure to harmful levels of respirable dust is unacceptable. Not conducting adequate examinations is unacceptable. Miners deserve better.”