“How Six Sigma Can Improve Your Safety Performance”

Six Sigma is the evolution of statistical quality improvement processes that have been used extensively to improve manufacturing and other process-related industries. How good is Six Sigma? It is a statistical measure of variability or standard deviation. The Six Sigma process calculates to 3.4 defects per million opportunities. Needless to say, that is near perfect execution of a process. Although not often used in the safety arena to full potential, Six Sigma tools can help produce significant and sustainable improvements in safety performance, injury reduction and associated pain.

Total Quality Management
To gain an understanding of Six Sigma, it is helpful to have some historical knowledge of the original statistical improvement tools or the Total Quality Management (TQM) concept. Original quality pioneers such as Walter A. Shewhart, W. Edwards Deming and Kaoru Ishikawa worked with Japanese manufacturing companies in the 1950s to significantly improve the quality of products. The original concept, TQM, has been defined as a management philosophy that produces continuous improvement of products and processes.

One of the most powerful tools that came out of TQM is the Plan/Do/Check/Act (PDCA) continuous improvement wheel. In this concept, plan to do something, do it, check for the effectiveness and, if it’s not performing as planned, act upon that by making changes. Then, on an ongoing basis, “turn the wheel” or plan, do, check and act again. This produces continuous improvement. The concept of PDCA is still just as powerful today as it was when first proposed.

A safety application of PDCA at both a strategic and an operational level is shown in the following diagram.

Six Sigma – Quality on Steroids
Although TQM provided significant quality improvement for users, there were still opportunities to improve the concept. That is why Six Sigma came to be. The Six Sigma management concept was originally developed by Motorola USA in 1986. In 1995, Six Sigma became more visible when Jack Welch made it a focus of business strategy at General Electric. Today, the Six Sigma concept has become the standard process for quality improvement in many industries. The objective of Six Sigma is to improve the quality of processes by identifying and removing the causes of defects. In safety, these process defects can be unsafe behaviors, incorrect procedures or equipment failures, all of which can result in injury.

A Formal Improvement Process
The original TQM used a number of statistical tools, but there was no formal process for integrating all of these tools and developing a complete process improvement solution. Six Sigma uses DMAIC, a clearly defined five-step improvement process that consists of the following:

Define
• Identify the process and define the scope of the project.
• Clearly identify the inputs and outputs of the process.
Measure
• Evaluate the measurement systems and resulting data.
Analyze
• Determine cause-and-effect relationships.
• Identify the root cause of the defects.
Improve
• Develop and implement improvements.
• Test effectiveness of improvements.
Control
• Implement a system to sustain the improvements.

Define Stage – What Are We Working On?
In the Define Stage, clearly identify the scope of the project or what it is that needs work. Also determine what the target performance should be. It will be necessary to understand what process is failing and resulting in what kinds of injuries.

One of the Six Sigma tools that is typically used in the Define Stage of the DMAIC method is the SIPOC. This tool is typically used in the manufacturing process where it is important to identify the suppliers, inputs, processes, outputs and customers. The diagram below shows the use of this tool in a very simplified version of the line construction work process.

By applying this tool to safety, one can see how some of the suppliers and inputs – which are normally not considered to have an impact on safety – can indeed have impact. For example, the SIPOC tool helps demonstrate that the people who design the project, design the standards or determine the specifications of the materials should consider safety implications when doing design work.

Measure Stage – Is the Data Correct and What is it Telling You?
In this stage, the data being used is extensively assessed and interpreted. First, ensure that the data is valid and accurately measuring the desired subject. This can often be an issue when analyzing behavior observations. Behaviors such as use of safety glasses are easy to document and address. More controversial items, such as adequate cover-up, are not always documented and addressed. As a result, when combining all of the observation data, since some of it is not valid, the overall observation results may not reflect actual performance.

Often in this phase, charts and graphs will provide directional information stating that performance has improved or degraded, but this may be misleading. Many charts and graphs reflect averages, and important information can be lost in averages. There are a number of tools used in this stage to identify whether it is truly statistically improving or if it just looks better on a chart. Tools that are used in the Measure Stage include histograms, Paretos and process capability.

Analyze Stage – Identifying the Root Cause
In the Analyze Stage, use the data collected and validated in the Measure Stage to determine the root causes of the process defects or injuries. A few of the tools that are used in the Analyze Stage include Cause & Effect Fishbone Diagram, Five Whys and Correlation Testing. The fishbone diagram is familiar to most people because of its extensive use in identifying the root cause of accidents. The importance of this stage cannot be understated because if the root cause is not validated, the corrective measures – tied to that root cause – will not provide the desired results.

Improve Stage – The Corrective Measures
After completing the Analyze Stage, potential corrective measures often become evident. During the Improve Stage, it is most important to test the potential corrective measures to see if they will address the root cause. In the safety arena, that does not mean to wait and see if another injury occurs. The root cause needs to be prevented, not the injury. In the case of eye injuries, the identified root cause may be the employees not wearing safety glasses or employees wearing improperly fitting safety glasses. In this case, the Improve Stage would include a process for fitting glasses and providing them to employees. In this stage, pilot trials or other forms of testing effectiveness can be used.

Control Stage – Make it Sustainable
The primary objective of the Control Stage is to monitor results and ensure that the expected improvements are being achieved and sustained. One of the biggest challenges, especially when implementing safety improvements, is ensuring that those improvements will be sustained. Far too often, events or injuries occur and upon analysis, corrective measures were recommended and implemented several years ago for a previous event, but are not working or are not in place for various reasons.

One reason for this could be that a good process was not in place to sustain corrective measures. Actual examples include:
• A safety improvement memo was sent out, but there was no follow-up to ensure that people implemented it.
• A new, safer tool was specified and purchased, but the older, unsafe tool is still found throughout the system. In the case of safety glasses, the employees are no longer using the ones they were fitted with.

Another reason may be that the original corrective measure did not correct the original root cause. This should have been identified when testing the effectiveness of the corrective measure in the Improve Stage.

Of all of the stages in the DMAIC process, I feel the Control Stage is the most important and most overlooked.

Conclusion
This represents only a small example of the tools and methods that are typically used in the DMAIC process. There is no question that use of Six Sigma and the DMAIC process requires trained facilitators to assist in providing desired results. The results, though, can be substantial if the process is properly followed. If an organization has access to someone with these skills, they can be very helpful in identifying the root causes of injuries and developing sustainable corrective measures. Appropriately utilized, Six Sigma can be an important component in creating an injury-free workplace.

About the Author: Ted Granger, CSSBB, CUSP, is an independent safety consultant affiliated with the Institute for Safety in Powerline Construction. He provides training, lectures and safety consulting services. Prior to his current role, Granger served in various managerial positions during his 37-year career at Florida Power & Light Company. These included T&D operations, human resources, logistics and safety, where he utilized his Six Sigma Black Belt certification. He can be contacted at tedjgranger.

Advertisements

“OSHA National Safety Stand-Down To Prevent Falls In Construction – May 8-12, 2017” #StandDown4Safety

Fatalities caused by falls from elevation continue to be a leading cause of death for construction employees, accounting for 350 of the 937 construction fatalities recorded in 2015 (BLS data). Those deaths were preventable. The National Fall Prevention Stand-Down raises fall hazard awareness across the country in an effort to stop fall fatalities and injuries.


What is a Safety Stand-Down?

A Safety Stand-Down is a voluntary event for employers to talk directly to employees about safety. Any workplace can hold a stand-down by taking a break to focus on “Fall Hazards” and reinforcing the importance of “Fall Prevention”. It’s an opportunity for employers to have a conversation with employees about hazards, protective methods, and the company’s safety policies and goals. It can also be an opportunity for employees to talk to management about fall hazards they see.

Who Can Participate?

Anyone who wants to prevent falls in the workplace can participate in the Stand-Down. In past years, participants included commercial construction companies of all sizes, residential construction contractors, sub- and independent contractors, highway construction companies, general industry employers, the U.S. Military, other government participants, unions, employer’s trade associations, institutes, employee interest organizations, and safety equipment manufacturers.

Partners

OSHA is partnering with key groups to assist with this effort, including the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA), OSHA approved State Plans, State consultation programs, the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR), the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), the National Safety Council, the National Construction Safety Executives (NCSE), the U.S. Air Force, and the OSHA Training Institute (OTI) Education Centers.

How to Conduct a Safety Stand-Down and FAQ’s

Companies can conduct a Safety Stand-Down by taking a break to have a toolbox talk or another safety activity such as conducting safety equipment inspections, developing rescue plans, or discussing job specific hazards. Managers are encouraged to plan a stand-down that works best for their workplace anytime during the May 8-12, 2017. SeeSuggestions to Prepare for a Successful “Stand-Down” and Highlights from the Past Stand-Downs. OSHA also hosts an Events page with events that are free and open to the public to help employers and employees find events in your area.

Certificate of Participation

Employers will be able to provide feedback about their Stand-Down and download a Certificate of Participation following the Stand-Down.

Share Your Story With Us

If you want to share information with OSHA on your Safety Stand-Down, Fall Prevention Programs or suggestions on how we can improve future initiatives like this, please send your email to oshastanddown@dol.gov. Also share your Stand-Down story on social media, with the hashtag: #StandDown4Safety.

If you plan to host a free event that is open to the public, see OSHA’s Events page to submit the event details and to contact your Regional Stand-Down Coordinator.

Additional Resources:

OSHA’s Falls Prevention Campaign Page (en español)

Fall Prevention Training Guide – A Lesson Plan for Employers (PDF) (EPUB | MOBI). Spanish (PDF) (EPUB | MOBI).

Fall Prevention Publications Webpage contains fall prevention materials in English and Spanish.

Ladder Safety Guidance

Scaffolding

  • Ladder Jack Scaffolds Fact Sheet (PDF)
  • Narrow Frame Scaffolds Fact Sheet (HTML PDF)
  • Tube and Coupler Scaffolds – Erection and Use Fact Sheet (PDF)
  • Tube and Coupler Scaffolds – Planning and Design Fact Sheet (PDF)
  • Scaffolding Booklet (HTML PDF)
  • OSHA Scaffold eTool
Stand-Down Partner Materials

Outreach Training Materials

Fall Safety Videos

Additional Educational Materials

“Donnie’s Accident” – “I Was Too Good To Need My Safety Gear”

Donnie's Accident

On August 12, 2004, I was connecting large electrical generator in preparation for Hurricane Charlie. The meter I was using failed and blew carbon into the gear and created an electrical arc which resulted in an arc blast. The electrical equipment shown in the video is the actual equipment after the explosion when my co-workers were there trying to restore power and make temporary repairs. I ended up with full thickness, 3rd degree burns to both hands and arms along with 2nd and 3rd degree burns to my neck and face. I was in a coma for two months due to numerous complications from infections and medications.

During this time my family endured 4 hurricanes and the possibility of losing me. I am a husband, a father, a son and a brother, not just an electrician. It took almost two years of healing, surgeries and rehabilitation to only be able to return to work to an office job. I can’t use my hands and arms as well as I once could… BUT I’M ALIVE! There are those who have had similar accidents and fared much, much worse. I use my experiences to caution others.

All of this could have been avoided if I had been wearing my personal protection equipment (PPE), which I was fully trained to do and was in my work van. I would have probably only gone to the hospital for a checkup! I am asking you to protect yourself by following your safety procedures. Accidents at work not only affect you; think about the effects on your family, your friends, your finances, your company, your co-workers… your entire world.

Most of these injuries can be prevented by following the safety rules your company probably have in place. Most of these rules were put in place because of accidents like mine. Be safe, wear your PPE; not for fear of fines, penalties or getting fired. Be safe for yourself and for all the people close to you. I got a second chance… You might not!!! !!!

You can read a more in depth account of my accident on the “Full Story” page.

OSHA Arc Flash Safety Information
Understanding “Arc Flash” – Occupational Safety and Health …

https://www.osha.gov/…/arc_flash_han…

Occupational Safety and Health Administration

Employees must follow the requirements of the Arc Flash Hazard label by wearing the proper personal protective equipment (PPE), use of insulated tools and other safety related precautions. This includes not working on or near the circuit unless you are a “qualified” worker.

“Reminder: Are You In Compliance With OSHA’s New Construction Confined Space Standard?”

image

 

Most employers in the construction industry already know that OSHA issued a new confined space standard for construction that became effective on August 3, 2015. Companies with employees who enter confined spaces at construction sites must be sure to understand the new regulation and adjust their processes in order to remain in compliance. Although the new standard has been in effect for six months, this blog provides a reminder on some of the key provisions of which employers should be aware.

As background, OSHA used to just have a confined space standard for general industry employers (29 CFR 1910.146). However, in recognition that construction sites often host multiple employers and are continually changing, with the number and nature of confined spaces changing as work progresses, OSHA promulgated a new standard, available at 29 CFR Subpart AA 1926.1200, tailored to the unique characteristics of construction sites.

While the general industry standard and the construction standard have many similarities, some key differences are:

The construction standard requires coordination when there are multiple employers at the worksite. Specifically, the construction standard imposes duties on three types of employers because of the recognition that different workers may perform different activities in the same space, which can result in hidden dangers:

Entry employers. This is defined as an employer who decides that an employee it directs will enter a permit space. Entry employers have a duty to inform controlling contractors (defined below) of any hazards encountered in a permit space. Entry employers also have to develop safe entry procedures.

Host employers. This is defined as the employer who owns or manages the property where the construction work is taking place. If the host employer has information about permit space hazards, it must share that information with the controlling contractor (defined below) and then the controlling contractor is responsible for sharing that information with the entry employers.

Controlling contractor. This is defined as the employer with overall responsibility for construction at the worksite. The controlling contractor is responsible for coordinating entry operations when there is more than one entry employer. Controlling contractors must provide any information they have about any permit space hazards to all entry employers.

The controlling contractor is also responsible for coordinating work in and around confined spaces so that no contractor working at the site will create a hazard inside the confined space. After the entry employer performs entry operations, the controlling contractor must debrief the entry employer to gather information that the controlling contractor then must share with the host employer and other contractors who enter the space later.

Continuous atmospheric monitoring is required under the construction standard “whenever possible.” In contrast, the general industry standard merely encourages continuous atmospheric monitoring where possible and only requires periodic monitoring as necessary.

The construction standard requires that a “competent person” evaluate the work site and identify confined spaces including permit-required confined spaces.

Notably, the general industry standard does not require that a “competent person” complete this task. A “competent person” is defined under the new standard as someone who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards associated with working conditions, including, of course, whether a workspace is permit-required.

Employers who perform construction-related activities need to make sure they understand the requirements of the new confined space construction standard. For more information, download : Confined Space in Construction: OSHA 29 CFR Subpart AA 1926.1200 here: https://www.osha.gov/confinedspaces/1926_subpart_aa.pdf or consult with your Seyfarth attorney.

Source: Seyfarth, Shaw : Evironmental Safety Update / Law Blog

http://www.environmentalsafetyupdate.com/osha-compliance/are-you-in-compliance-with-oshas-new-confined-space-standard-for-the-construction-industry/

 

 

“Excavation & Trenching Safety” #ConstructionSafety @StopThinkPrevnt

Trenching and Excavation Safety

Excavation and trenching are among the most hazardous construction operations. OSHA defines an excavation as any man-made cut, cavity, trench, or depression in the earth’s surface formed by earth removal. A trench is defined as a narrow underground excavation that is deeper than it is wide, and is no wider than 15 feet (4.5 meters).

Dangers of Trenching and Excavation
Cave-ins pose the greatest risk and are much more likely than other excavation-related accidents to result in worker fatalities. Other potential hazards include falls, falling loads, hazardous atmospheres, and incidents involving mobile equipment. Trench collapses cause dozens of fatalities and hundreds of injuries each year.

Protect Yourself
Do not enter an unprotected trench! Trenches 5 feet (1.5 meters) deep or greater require a protective system unless the excavation is made entirely in stable rock. Trenches 20 feet (6.1 meters) deep or greater require that the protective system be de-signed by a registered professional engineer or be based on tabulated data prepared and/ or approved by a registered professional engineer.

Protective Systems
There are different types of protective systems. Sloping involves cutting back the trench wall at an angle inclined away from the excavation. Shoring requires installing aluminum hydraulic or other types of supports to prevent soil movement and cave ins. Shielding protects workers by using trench boxes or other types of supports to prevent soil cave-ins. Designing a protective system can be complex because you must consider many factors: soil classification, depth of cut, water content of soil, changes due to weather or climate, surcharge loads (eg., spoil, other materials to be used in the trench) and other operations in the vicinity.

Competent Person

OSHA standards require that trenches be inspected daily and as conditions change by a competent person prior to worker entry to ensure elimination of excavation hazards. A competent person is an individual who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards or working conditions that are hazardous, unsanitary, or dangerous to employees and who is authorized to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate or control these hazards and conditions.

Access and Egress
OSHA requires safe access and egress to all excavations, including ladders, steps, ramps, or other safe means of exit for employees working in trench excavations 4 feet (1.22 meters) or deeper. These devices must be located within 25 feet (7.6 meters) of all workers.

General Trenching and Excavation Rules

  • Keep heavy equipment away from trench edges.
  • Keep surcharge loads at least 2 feet (0.6 meters) from trench edges.
  • Know where underground utilities are located.
  • Test for low oxygen, hazardous fumes and toxic gases.
  • Inspect trenches at the start of each shift.
  • Inspect trenches following a rainstorm.
  • Do not work under raised loads.

Additional Information
Visit OSHA’s Safety and Health Topics web page on trenching and excavation at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/trenchingexcavation/ index.html

Highlights

“The ABC’s & 1,2,3’s of Fall Protection”

10 Astonishing Facts About Arc Flash - Infographic by Creative Safety Supply
Infographic created by Creative Safety Supply

“No Injury, No Accident”……..Right??” #Safety #NearMiss

Discover how near misses can add up to major accidents. “No Injury, No Accident?” dramatically shows employees how to recognize and prevent serious injuries or fatal accidents before they occur. Based on the pioneering work of W. H. Heinrich and his renowned “Heinrich Triangle,” the program demonstrates how the odds of a serious or fatal accident occurring emerges from a series of typical injury-fee accidents. “No Injury, No Accidents?” also shows employees the importance of reporting the accident, investigating how it happened, and eliminating the cause. It’s an essential message for every safety program.

Note: The first 23 seconds of this 18 Minute video are a little garbled.

What Are Near Misses?

Near misses happen every day in the workplace. Regardless of their potential for personal injury and property damage, all near misses should be taken seriously and consistently reported.

There are many terms which essentially mean the same thing – accident avoidance, close call, mishap or even narrow escape. It doesn’t matter exactly what terminology your business chooses to use when referring to a near miss. What matters is whether everyone understands exactly what constitutes a near miss and why it’s essential to make a record of it so it can be investigated and addressed.

Overcoming barriers to reporting

Many obstacles stand in the way of operating and utilizing an efficient and effective near-miss reporting program:

Fear of blame: Many employees are afraid to report near misses because either they don’t want to admit that they didn’t follow safety procedures or they will be mistakenly accused of doing something wrong. To create a truly effective near-miss reporting program, this stigma must be eliminated.

For near-miss reporting to work well, employers need to create a safe and comfortable atmosphere. The goal is to make employees so comfortable about the process that they report them as easily and freely as they would report a garbage can is full or a light bulb is burned out. Blame cannot be part of the equation – period.

Incoherent indifference: Another enemy of effective reporting is indifference. When a near miss occurs, some employees may question whether the situation was substantial enough to be recorded. When this happens, employees often simply disregard the event. This mindset can be lethal to a near-miss reporting program.

Hazards that are overlooked or dismissed as minor are lost opportunities for valuable insight. Employees should be trained on the importance of reporting each and every near miss. A clear definition should be provided on what constitutes a near miss, including any situation that appears to be “unsafe.” Once employees understand the importance of reporting and are clear on the definition of what defines a near miss, they will feel confident about their judgment and empowered to report.

Lack of supervisor support: Employees usually follow their direct supervisor’s instructions in most job-related situations. If a supervisor does not treat near-miss reporting as a priority, there is a good chance their personnel won’t either. Supervisors need to encourage this type of reporting and set an example by reporting near misses themselves. When employees know that their supervisors are completely on board with near-miss reporting, it is easier for them to feel comfortable to report, as well.

Near-miss reporting is a critical component of any well-organized and effective safety program. Over time, near-miss programs have been shown to save millions of dollars in medical care and equipment replacement costs. More importantly, they save lives.

Reporting near misses should not just be considered an “extra” thing or something the employee is ashamed or embarrassed to do. Instead, employees should feel proud that they are part of an effective process of prevention and incident management and thanked for their proactive safety behaviors.

 

“US House of Representatives Seeking to Make OSHA VPP Permanent”

Washington – Several members of the House have joined forces to reintroduce bipartisan legislation that would make permanent OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Programs.

Reps. Todd Rokita (R-IN), Gene Green (D-TX) and Martha Roby (R-AL) claim the Voluntary Protection Program Act is “sound policy that is not only good for the employers and employees but for the American economy overall,” Rokita said in a March 9 press release.

The proposed legislation would denote a long-term commitment to OSHA’s program, which recognizes worksites that achieve exemplary occupational safety and health performance. To be accepted into the program, worksites must implement safety and health management systems that yield below-average injury and illness rates. Successful worksites involved in VPP then gain exemption from certain OSHA inspections.

More than 2,200 worksites covering approximately 900,000 employees have participated in VPP since its 1982 inception. The VPP Act would codify the program, meaning Congress would be unable to withdraw its funding.

The legislation has remained before the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee since it was read twice and referred to the committee in late April 2016.

“The Voluntary Protection Program is one of the few programs that has achieved unified support from both union and non-unionized labor, small and large businesses, and government,” Green said in the release. “I am proud to work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to codify this important safety program that saves money while protecting workers.”

Added Roby: “The best way to ensure worker safety is through partnerships, not penalties. VPP helps companies become compliant with workplace safety rules on the front end to avoid costly fines and harmful penalties on the back end. It’s a smart way to ensure a safe and productive workplace, while also making government smaller and more efficient.”

The House considered similar legislation – also introduced by Rokita, Green, and Roby – in May 2015. It was referred to the Workforce Protections Subcommittee that November.

Given the current political climate,it would not be surprising to see this adopted at some point in the near future. Time will tell.

“West Virginia Senate Bill Eliminates Mine Safety Enforcement”

By Ken Ward Jr. , Staff Writer, Charleston Gazette-Mail

State safety inspectors wouldn’t inspect West Virginia’s coal mines anymore. They would conduct “compliance visits and education.”

Violations of health and safety standards wouldn’t produce state citations and fines, either. Mine operators would receive “compliance assistance visit notices.”

And West Virginia regulators wouldn’t have authority to write safety and health regulations. Instead, they could only “adopt policies … [for] improving compliance assistance” in the state’s mines.

Those and other significant changes in a new industry- backed bill would produce a wholesale elimination of most enforcement of longstanding laws and rules put in place over many years — as a result of hundreds of deaths — to protect the health and safety of West Virginia’s coal miners.

Opponents are furious about the proposed changes but also fearful that backers of the bill could easily have the votes to push through any language they want. Longtime mine safety experts and advocates are shocked at the breadth of the attack on current authorities of the state Office of Miners’ Health, Safety and Training and the Board of Coal Mine Health and Safety.

“It’s breathtaking in its scope,” said mine safety expert Davitt McAteer, who ran the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration during the Clinton administration and led a team that called for strengthening — not weakening — the state’s mine safety efforts after the deaths of 29 miners at Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch Mine just seven years ago next month.

Senate Bill 582 is billed as legislation “relating generally to coal mining, coal mining safety and environmental protection.”

Various lobbyists and advocates, even many lawmakers, are still trying to sort out and understand its many provisions, which range from language rewriting the state’s program for holding mine operators responsible for cleaning up abandoned strip mines and properly classifying streams that are trout waters to consolidating existing state mine safety boards into one panel and creating a new mandate for state-funded mine rescue teams.

A legislative committee lawyer indicated that some provisions intended for the bill didn’t make it into the initial text, including a rewrite of language in water quality standards that has been the subject of much litigation aimed at reducing water pollution from large-scale surface mines. Those provisions would have to be amended into the bill or added through a committee substitute, the lawyer said.

The heart of the legislation is a section that simply eliminates the ability of state mine safety office inspectors to issue notices of violation or levy fines for mine operators or coal companies for any safety hazards unless they can prove there is an “imminent danger” of death or serious physical harm.

Language in the bill offers somewhat confusing answers about what inspectors would do if they found imminent danger. One part of the bill maintains the current law, which says that inspectors must issue an order to pull all miners out of the affected part of the mine until the hazard is corrected. Another section, though, refers to a new type of process involving a “notice of correction,” that appears to carry no monetary penalty.

One thing that is clear is that the bill would maintain and encourage the use of “individual personal assessments,” which target specific mine employees — rather than mine operators or coal companies — for violations, fines and, possibly, revocation of certifications or licenses needed to work in the industry. In addition, the requirement for four inspections every year for each underground coal mine would be reduced to one compliance assistance visit for each of those mines.

And, the bill would require that, by Aug. 31, the state rewrite all of its coal mine safety standards so that, instead of longstanding and separate state rules, mine operators would be responsible for following only U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration regulations. The list of areas covered by this provision includes electrical standards, mine ventilation, roof control, safety examinations, dust control and explosives.

“It completely guts the state law,” said Josh Roberts, international health and safety director for the United Mine Workers union. “You’re taking back decades of laws.”

Roberts and McAteer agreed that the notion of deferring almost all state mine safety standards to the federal government is especially concerning, given the promises made by President Donald Trump to remove regulations the coal industry says have been hampering production and employment. McAteer noted that West Virginia led the nation in coal-mining deaths last year and has had two deaths already in 2017.

“It is shocking that, after all these years and the numbers of West Virginians who have died in the mines, for the state to even consider this,” McAteer said Monday, after reviewing the legislation. “The state needs to be involved in making sure we are protecting our citizens. This should be one of the primary goals of the state government.”

Word that the coal industry was planning to have one of its supporters in the Legislature drop such a bill has been circulating since the start of the session in early February.

Chris Hamilton, senior vice president of the West Virginia Coal Association, said Tuesday that he isn’t sure that his organization fully supports the reduced enforcement authority spelled out in the legislation.

Asked if that meant the industry feels the bill goes too far, Hamilton said, “We’re okay with it the way the bill is, but we just think it can be tweaked and maybe improved on.”

Hamilton said federal inspectors spend plenty of time at West Virginia’s coal mines and that having state inspectors doing the same thing is duplicative.

The current version of the bill was introduced during a Senate session on Saturday. The lead sponsor is Sen. Randy Smith, R-Tucker. Smith chairs the Senate Energy, Industry and Mining Committee and is employed as a safety manager for Mettiki Coal. Officials from Mettiki’s parent corporation, Alliance Resource Partners, were major contributors to Smith’s campaign. Alliance bills itself as the second-largest Eastern U.S. coal producer. Its Mettiki arm operates a large underground mine in Tucker County.

On Tuesday, with a near-packed committee room full of industry officials and some rank-and-file coal miners, and with the legislation on the agenda, Smith announced that he was sending the bill to a three-person subcommittee that would be chaired by EIM Committee Vice Chairman Dave Sypolt, R-Preston. Other subcommittee members will be Sen. Chandler Swope, R-Mercer, and Sen. Glenn Jeffries, D-Putnam, Smith said.

In an interview, Smith said he doesn’t necessarily support all provisions of the bill he introduced. For example, he said he doesn’t really support taking away so much of the state mine safety office’s enforcement power.

See the rest of the story: http://www.wvgazettemail.com/news-politics/20170314/wv-senate-bill-eliminates-mine-safety-enforcement#sthash.A8oevOgJ.dpuf

Source: Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kward@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-1702 or follow @kenwardjr on Twitter.

More Information:

Map: West Virginia Leads Nation in Coal Mining Deaths Since 2004

“11 Tips for Handling Hazardous Materials”

Don’t become a target for one of these avoidable citations! Join us on March 29 for an in-depth webinar presented by Meaghan Boyd, a seasoned environmental litigation partner at Alston & Bird, as she discusses best practices for hazardous materials transportation.

You’ll learn:

  • How to identify hazardous materials ahead of transport
  • What type of training is required for people who offer transport of hazardous materials
  • How to determine appropriate packaging, marking and labeling when transporting a hazardous material
  • Penalties for not properly labeling or shipping a “hazardous material”
  • How to apply for DOT special permits
  • “Hot topics” in hazmat transportation, including lithium batteries, that could lead to compliance risks

Save my seat.

Source: BLR

%d bloggers like this: