Is an impact inspection coming your way?

By |  March 22, 2016

Be prepared for impact inspections from the Mine Safety & Health Administration (MSHA), even if you don’t believe one is coming your way as an aggregate producer.

That’s one of the messages Max Corley, an attorney at Dinsmore & Shohl LLP, imparted on producers during an AGG1 Academy educational session in Nashville, Tenn. Producers must be prepared for impact inspections, and producer preparation must start now if it hasn’t already.

“I recommend you have a plan in place for when inspectors arrive,” says Corley, whose firm is located in Charleston, W.Va. “What do you do if eight inspectors show up? You need to be thinking further than the typical inspection.”

So, what factors do MSHA representatives consider when determining which companies get impact inspections and which do not? Corley says MSHA examines a few areas, including the Rules to Live By.

“If you’re seeing repeated violations in your history of Rules to Live By, then you might be a potential candidate for an impact inspection,” Corley says.

As a solution, Corley says producers should educate their employees about the Rules to Live By.

“Not only could you potentially reduce fatalities but you’re going to potentially avoid an impact inspection,” he says.

MSHA also examines a company’s accident rate, according to Corley. Companies with higher incidence rates than the national average may at some point find themselves involved in an impact inspection.

Yet another factor MSHA considers when determining target companies for impact inspections is operator tactics, Corley adds.

“[MSHA’s Neal Merrifield] says they’re looking at those operators who are taking a flippant attitude toward inspecting,” he says. “Well, how does that get communicated up the line to somebody who decides about an impact inspection?”

So consider how seriously you’re addressing safety at your mining company.

“Are you letting inspectors on your property?” Corley asks. “Are you trying to thwart inspections in some way? Are you falsifying things?”

Mining companies can get themselves into trouble when they assign the wrong people to travel with inspectors, Corley adds. So know the personalities of your employees. Know who’s knowledgeable and who would work well with an inspector.

“If you’re able to show inspectors respect and you treat them well even if you disagree with them, that’s going to go a lot further than if you get combative,” Corley says.

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About the Author:

Kevin Yanik is editor-in-chief of Pit & Quarry. He can be reached at 216-706-3724 or

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