Up Fork Creek without a paddle

FEDERAL regulators have released data from impact inspection efforts in April, making an example of Coal River Mining’s Fork Creek no 1 mine.
Up Fork Creek without a paddle Up Fork Creek without a paddle Up Fork Creek without a paddle Up Fork Creek without a paddle Up Fork Creek without a paddle

MSHA assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health Joseph Main. Courtesy MSHA.

Staff Reporter

Fork Creek was one of 11 mines inspected during the month that received a collective 106 citations, 13 orders and one safeguard.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration said it conducted an impact inspection on April 17 at the West Virginia mine, issuing four closure orders and 10 citations.

“This latest inspection is an example of a mine that still doesn’t get it,” MSHA assistant secretary of labor Joseph A Main said.

“The violations that were issued show the troublesome behavior that takes place at some mines when MSHA inspectors are not expected to show up.”

The mine was cited for inadequate examination of one of the conveyer belts where hazardous conditions existed.

Inspectors found top-structure rollers were not immediately removed or repaired on the belt during the examination.

Although maintenance shift records showed that two sections of the top structure of the belt needed replacement, the hazardous conditions were not recorded in the official examination book, MSHA said in a statement.

Inspectors also found a broken inner support bracket, the canister roller turned on the structure frame and a groove worn into the frame that was hot to the touch.

MSHA said inspectors found 31 locations where belt strings intertwined with the belt roller and hanger, creating a potential fire and smoke inhalation hazard.

Among other violations cited, inspectors found the mine operator failed to follow the MSHA-approved methane/dust control plan for the roof bolter.

“Without proper ventilation to dilute the air and carry away dust and harmful gases, miners are exposed to respiratory hazards that increase their risk of developing black lung, silicosis and other respiratory diseases,” MSHA said in the statement.

Power cables on a shuttle car operating in a wet area of the mine were not properly maintained and posed an electrocution hazard.

The cable insulation was damaged and not repaired to prevent moisture from entering the conductor.

It was not the first time MSHA had concerns about the mine.

In February, the mine was issued 16 ventilation violations, 13 of which were closure orders for the operator’s unwarrantable failure to comply with health and safety standards, including serious violations of its ventilation plan.

The agency’s special impact inspections began in April 2010 following an explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia in which 29 workers were killed.

The push involved mines that warranted increased attention and enforcement by the agency due to a poor compliance history or particular compliance concerns.

These included high numbers of violations or closure orders; indications of operator tactics, such as advance notification of inspections that prevented inspectors from observing violations; frequent hazard complaints or hotline calls; plan compliance issues; inadequate workplace examinations; a high number of accidents, injuries or illnesses; fatalities; and adverse conditions such as increased methane liberation, faulty roof conditions and inadequate ventilation.

Since April 2010, MSHA has conducted 602 impact inspections and issued 10,297 citations, 961 orders and 44 safeguards.

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