Inspector General: MSHA progressing on post-UBB recommendations - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Inspector General: MSHA progressing on post-UBB recommendations

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According to a report from the Office of Inspector General, the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration is on track to meeting goals set by a review following the explosion of Upper Big Branch.

The explosion of the Raleigh County mine killed 29 coal miners. A few days after the explosion, an internal review of the disaster was initiated by MSHA. The internal review team identified 100 recommendations to improve agency performance.

The OIG was tapped to conduct an audit to assess MSHA's progress due to concerned raised by Rep. John Kline, R-Minn.

"The OIG found that MSHA informally prioritized the recommendations based on several factors, including risk, availability of resources, and ease and expediency," a summary of the report states. "We confirmed that MSHA had implemented 38 recommendations as of September 2012. In addition, MSHA reported it had implemented a total of 56 recommendations as of February 11, 2013."

The summary further states the agency is on track to meet the due dates of the remaining 44 recommendations. An independent panel assessment generated four recommendations, and the OIG found that many of those recommendations are under way.

Two of the recommendations, MSHA indicated, are only being implemented partially due to disagreement with certain parts of the recommendations. For example, MSHA says it disagrees with the panel's suggestion of implementing and independent monitor to oversee MSHA's corrective actions.

"MSHA has made significant progress in implementing the recommendations in the

Internal Review report and select Independent Panel report recommendations," a cover letter accompanying the report states. "Even before the Internal Review report was published, MSHA took actions on issues it identified as highest risk, including, among others, issuing temporary rules on coal dust, dividing District 4 (where the disaster occurred) into two separate districts to enhance enforcement, and introducing impact inspections to leverage MSHA's authority at mines that merit increased attention and enforcement."

The only suggestions for MSHA was to establish a more formal process for prioritizing future recommendations and to continue work on the remaining initiatives identified by the internal review.  

A letter from Joe Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health can be viewed here: http://www.oig.dol.gov/public/reports/oa/2013/05-13-003-06-001x.pdf