Under the existing standard for pre-shift, supplemental, on-shift and weekly examinations, operators are required to identify, correct and record hazardous conditions. The proposal would apply to these examinations and would require operators also identify, correct and record violations of mandatory health or safety standards.

MSHA reviewed accident investigation reports and the agency’s enforcement data on underground coal mines, and concluded that the agency needed to propose changes to the existing examination requirements. By reviewing records and data over a five-year period, MSHA determined the same types of violations of mandatory health or safety standards are found by MSHA inspectors in underground coal mines every year.

Violations for accumulations of combustible materials, ventilation and roof control plans, and maintenance of incombustible content of rock dust are the top 10 cited safety standards year after year. These standards accounted for about 40% of the total violations at underground coal mines in 2009. Under the proposal, MSHA intends that an examiner looking for violations of mandatory health or safety standards would identify these types of violations and correct many conditions before miners suffer injury, illness or death.