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NSSGA Applauds MSHA Outreach

The National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association (NSSGA) has some kind words for MSHA in the wake of the agency’s recent meeting in Seattle with representatives from the aggregates industry. “U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administrator Joe Main is to be credited for his commitment to meaningful stakeholder outreach,” said NSSGA Chairman of the Board of Directors Ron Summers, CalPortland Co., Glendora, Calif.

Bruce Chattin, executive director of the Washington Aggregates & Concrete Association, organized the meeting primarily for aggregates producers. NSSGA has long urged MSHA to conduct a meaningful dialogue with aggregates stakeholders, who represent the greatest single segment of the mining sector the agency oversees.

NSSGA made the request because, in the critical work of occupational safety and health, a constructive dialogue between regulators and the regulated is vitally important. NSSGA has recommended that the agency: 1) focus its inspectorate’s work on genuine risk to safety and health, 2) work to ensure that MSHA inspectors conduct evaluations in a manner consistent with MSHA standards and 3) make full use of available resources for providing compliance assistance.

In his comments, Main reminded participants of his efforts to make MSHA a more functional agency in properly evaluating risk and penalizing operators that violate standards. Main also reminded attendees of his commitment to enforcement consistency and said he is considering an evaluation of the current inspector training manual for metal/non-metal with an eye for improving inspector consistency. Summers added, “Joe Main’s steadfastness in his efforts to improve inspector consistency while maintaining an open dialogue with operators is to be commended.”

In 2011, the aggregates sector saw its lowest-ever injury incidence rate of 2.27 injuries per 200,000 hours worked. Penalty assessments against operators for violations fell 18 percent to approximately $17 million from the year-earlier period.

Heads of state associations of aggregate producers from the Arizona Rock Products Association, California Construction and Industrial Minerals Association and the Oregon Concrete & Aggregate Producers Association, as well as WACA, made presentations at the meeting. Joining Main in representing MSHA were MNM administrator, Neal Merrifield, as well as district managers Wyatt Andrews (Western region) and Richard Laufenberg, (Rocky Mountain region).