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Department of Labor: 05-06-003-06-001

Department of Labor: 05-06-003-06-001

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Published by: Department of Labor on Jan 29, 2008
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05/08/2014

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M
INE
S
AFETY
A
ND
H
EALTH
 A
DMINISTRATION
 
A
LLEGATIONS
O
F
U
NFAIR
E
NFORCEMENT
I
N
M
SHA
S
D
ISTRICT
1
   O   f   f   i  c  e  o   f   I  n  s  p  e  c   t  o  r   G  e  n  e  r  a   l  —   O   f   f   i  c  e  o   f   A  u   d   i   t
 
Date Issued: March 31, 2006Report Number: 05-06-003-06-001
 
 
U.S. Department of Labor
Office of Inspector GeneralOffice of Audit
 
BRIEFLY…
Highlights of Report Number: 05-06-003-06-001, tothe Acting Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety andHealth Administration (MSHA).
WHY READ THE REPORT
This report addresses allegations from anthracitemine operators in the Mine Safety and HealthAdministration’s (MSHA) District 1. Specifically, theyalleged that:
Enforcement activity directed by the currentDistrict Manager was excessive or unjustified,
Mine operators who were publicly critical ofMSHA were harassed through increasedenforcement, and
Current MSHA regulations contain safety andhealth requirements that are not appropriate foranthracite coal mines.The Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 makesMSHA responsible for assuring compliance withFederal safety and health standards throughout themining industry. In FY 2004, there were about 23operating anthracite (hard) coal mines, all located inMSHA District 1 (northeastern Pennsylvania), andemploying about 100 miners. During the same year,there were almost 2,000 operating bituminous (soft)coal mines in 27 states, employing more than100,000 miners. The process of mining anthracitecoal is still done largely by hand, while bituminouscoal mining is generally highly mechanized.
WHY OIG DID THE AUDIT
We performed an audit to determine the validity ofthe allegations by anthracite mine operators.
READ THE FULL REPORT
To view the report, including the scope,methodology, and full agency response, go to:http://www.oig.dol.gov/public/reports/oa/2006/05-06-003-06-001.pdf March 2006
ALLEGATIONS OF UNFAIRENFORCEMENT IN MSHA’S DISTRICT 1
WHAT OIG FOUND
We found no indications or corroborating evidenceto support allegations that enforcement in District 1was excessive or unjustified. Our analysis of datafor inspections performed, citations and withdrawalorders issued, and citations and withdrawal ordersoverturned did not indicate that activity in District 1varied from levels in other districts or the nationaltrend in a manner or to an extent that suggested thepossibility of inappropriate actions.Also, our analysis did not indicate that mineoperators who were publicly critical of MSHA hadbeen harassed through increased enforcementactivity. MSHA data showed an unusually high levelof enforcement activity for only one mine operator inDistrict 1 who had been a frequent critic of MSHApolicies and practices in recent years. However,MSHA records showed that this activity was theresult of regulatory requirements triggered by anespecially hazardous condition at the mine.Our analysis did indicate that MSHA has notresolved a long-standing question of whetherexisting regulations establish requirements that arenot relevant to anthracite mining operations. SinceFY 1995, the number of Petitions for Modificationfiled in District 1 has consistently exceeded those inall other districts combined. Most of the petitionsfiled in District 1 relate to issues unique to anthracitemining. Also MSHA’s efforts have not fully resolvedwhether its petition process is the most efficientmeans of dealing with regulatory differences
WHAT OIG RECOMMENDED
We recommended that the MSHA evaluate whetherthe petition process provides an efficient means ofaddressing the applicability of regulations to varyingmining techniques or whether any regulationsrequire revision for anthracite mining methods.MSHA responded that it will (a) review the work ofan earlier internal group charged with examining theimpact of regulations on anthracite mine operators;(b) review regulations in Pennsylvania related toanthracite coal mining; and (c) continue to takeaction, when appropriate, to eliminate the need formine operators to file petitions for regulatory relief.Based on MSHA’s responses, we consider therecommendation resolved.
 
Allegations of Unfair Enforcement in MSHA’s District 1U.S. Department of Labor—Office of Inspector General 1Report Number: 05-06-003-06-001
Table of Contents
PAGEEXECUTIVE SUMMARY................................................................................................3ASSISTANT INSPECTOR GENERAL’S REPORT........................................................7RESULTS
We found no indicators or corroborating evidence to support
....................................8
allegations that enforcement activities directed by the currentDistrict 1 Manager were excessive or unjustified.We found no indicators that enforcement activities increased
.................................12
for mine operators as a result of their public criticism of MSHA.We found indicators that current MSHA regulations may
.........................................14
contain health and safety requirements that are not appropriateto anthracite mine operations.
EXHIBITS......................................................................................................................19
 
A. Inspections per Mine
................................................................................................21
 B. Citations per Mine
....................................................................................................23
 C. Orders per Mine
.......................................................................................................25
D. Petitions for Modifications Submitted
.......................................................................27
E. Petitions for Modification Approved
..........................................................................29
F. Most Common Petitions for Modification Granted in District 1
.................................31APPENDICES...............................................................................................................33
 
A. Background
...............................................................................................................35
B. Objective, Scope, Methodology, and Criteria
............................................................39
 
C. Acronyms and Abbreviations
....................................................................................43
 D. Agency Response
.....................................................................................................45

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