A few weeks back, MSHA announced a new “training and enforcement” initiative on “working alone,” which MSHA claimed was necessary because of five fatalities in 2017. But, I had to ask: do these incidents really have anything to do with each other or with working alone?

So, in last month’s Rock Products magazine, I did a deep dive into the data supposedly underlying this new initiative. The details of each of these events are both tragic and unusual.

Looking at the three metal/non-metal accidents cited by MSHA, it seems that perhaps the only thing they really have in common is MSHA did not issue any “working alone” citations in any of them. So how do they support a new working alone enforcement initiative?

Though MSHA’s national leadership has said that the initiative is really intended just to raise awareness, the initiative comes at a time when at least some of MSHA’s offices are issuing working alone citations for routine mining conditions (even though the standard, 30 C.F.R. § 57.18025, only applies to “hazardous conditions”). Several mines in the Western District have been required to implement a variety of different procedures – such as keeping mine phones within a certain distance – before MSHA allowed miners to perform standard mining alone underground.

Does MSHA’s initiative stand on solid ground? Read the full article to learn more.