Code of Virginia

Code of Virginia
Title 45.1. Mines and Mining
10/26/2020

Article 7. Mine Inspections.

§ 45.1-161.292:54. Frequency of mine inspections.

A. The Director shall conduct a complete inspection of every underground mineral mine not less frequently than every 180 days, and of those surface mineral mines which are not inspected by the Mine Safety and Health Administration not less frequently than once per year. Additional inspections of such mineral mines shall be made when deemed appropriate by the Director based on an evaluation of risks at the mines, or if requested by miners employed at a mine or the licensed operator of a mine.

B. The Director shall not conduct inspections of surface mineral mines which are inspected by the Mine Safety and Health Administration; however, mine inspectors and other employees of the Department may enter such mines in order to (i) respond to complaints of violations of this chapter and Chapters 14.5 (§ 45.1-161.293 et seq.) and 14.6 (§ 45.1-161.304 et seq.), (ii) respond to and investigate any serious personal injury or fatality, and (iii) with the consent of the licensed operator, conduct training programs.

C. The Director shall determine whether a surface mineral mine is inspected by the Mine Safety and Health Administration. The Director shall make such determination based on information provided by the Mine Safety and Health Administration and Department records. The Director shall request representatives of the Mine Safety and Health Administration to serve with Department personnel on a joint committee of cooperation. The committee shall include the Director of the Division of Mineral Mining and such additional Division employees as the Director shall designate. The committee shall meet not less than twice annually at the call of the Director for the purpose of facilitating communication and resolving discrepancies regarding the inspection responsibilities of the state and federal agencies with respect to surface mineral mines in the Commonwealth.

1997, c. 390; 1998, c. 695.

§ 45.1-161.292:55. Evaluation of risks at mines.

A. For the purpose of allocating the resources of the Department to be used for conducting additional inspections, the Department shall develop a procedural policy of scheduling such inspections based on an assessment, to be made not less frequently than annually, of the comparative risks at each underground mineral mine and those surface mineral mines which are not inspected by the Mine Safety and Health Administration. The Department's procedural policy shall be prepared with the assistance of working groups consisting of persons knowledgeable in mine safety issues. The issuance of the procedural policy shall be exempt from Article 2 (§ 2.2-4006 et seq.) of the Administrative Process Act. Variables to be included in the risk assessment measures shall include, but not be limited to: (i) fatality and serious accident rates at the mine; (ii) the rates of issuance of closure orders and notices of violations of the mine safety laws of the Commonwealth at the mine; and (iii) the frequency rates for nonserious accidents or nonfatal days lost. Risk assessments shall be developed for both independent contractors and individual mine sites.

B. The Director shall schedule additional inspections at underground mineral mines, and at surface mineral mines which are not inspected by the Mine Safety and Health Administration, based on the rating assigned to a mine reflecting the assessment of its risks compared to other such mines in the Commonwealth.

1997, c. 390; 1998, c. 695.

§ 45.1-161.292:56. Review of inspection reports and records.

Prior to completing an inspection of an underground mineral mine, a mine inspector shall review the most recent available report of inspection by the Mine Safety and Health Administration. Prior to completing any inspection of a mine, a mine inspector shall comprehensively review the records of pre-shift examinations, on-shift exams, daily inspections, weekly examinations, and other records relating to safety and health conditions in the mine which are required to be maintained pursuant to this chapter and Chapters 14.5 (§ 45.1-161.293 et seq.) and 14.6 (§ 45.1-161.304 et seq.), for the thirty-day period preceding the inspection. The mine inspector may, but shall not be required to, review the records for such additional period as he may deem prudent.

1997, c. 390; 1998, c. 695.

§ 45.1-161.292:57. Advance notice of inspections; confidentiality of trade secrets.

A. No person shall give advance notice of any mine inspection conducted under the provisions of this title without authorization from the Director.

B. All information reported to or otherwise obtained by the Director or his authorized representative in connection with any inspection or proceeding under this title which contains or might reveal a trade secret referred to in § 1905 of Title 18 of the United States Code shall be considered confidential for the purpose of that section, except that such information may be disclosed to the Director or his authorized representative concerned with carrying out any provisions of this title or any proceeding hereunder. In any such proceeding, the court or the Director shall issue such orders as may be appropriate to protect the confidentiality of trade secrets.

1997, c. 390.

§ 45.1-161.292:58. Scheduling of mine inspections.

A. The Director shall schedule the inspections of mines under this article, to the extent deemed reasonable and prudent, in order to reduce their chronological proximity to inspections conducted by the Mine Safety and Health Administration. To this end, the Director shall endeavor to coordinate the timing of inspections with Mine Safety and Health Administration personnel.

B. The Director and mine inspectors, to the extent deemed reasonable and prudent, shall schedule mine inspections to commence at a variety of hours of the day and days of the week, including evening and night shifts, weekends, and holidays.

1997, c. 390.

§ 45.1-161.292:59. Denial of entry.

No person shall deny the Director or any mine inspector entry upon or through a mine for the purpose of conducting an inspection or any office at the site where maps or records relating to the mine are located, pursuant to this chapter and Chapters 14.5 (§ 45.1-161.293 et seq.) and 14.6 (§ 45.1-161.304 et seq.).

1997, c. 390.

§ 45.1-161.292:60. Duties of operator.

A. The operator, or his agent, of every mine shall furnish the Director and mine inspectors proper facilities for entering such mine and making examinations or obtaining information and shall furnish any data or information not of a confidential nature requested by such inspector.

B. The operator of an underground mine, or his agent, shall provide a mine inspector adequate means for transportation to the active working areas of the mine within a reasonable time following the mine inspector's arrival at the mine.

C. The operator or his agent shall, when ordered to do so by a mine inspector during the course of his inspection, promptly clear the mine or section thereof of all persons.

1997, c. 390.

§ 45.1-161.292:61. Duties of inspectors.

A. During a complete inspection of a mine, other than an inactive mine, the mine inspector shall inspect, where applicable, the surface plant; all active workings; all active travel ways; entrances to abandoned areas; accessible worked-out areas; at least one entry of each intake and return airway in its entirety; escapeways and other places where miners work or travel or where hazardous conditions may exist; electric installations and equipment; haulage facilities; first-aid equipment; ventilation facilities; communication installations; roof and rib conditions; roof-support practices; blasting practices; haulage practices and equipment; and any other condition, practice or equipment pertaining to the health and safety of the miners. The mine inspector shall make tests for the quantity of air flows, and for gas and oxygen deficiency, in each place which he is required to inspect in an underground mine. In mines operating more than one shift in a twenty-four-hour period, the mine inspector shall devote sufficient time on the second and third shifts to determine conditions and practices relating to the health and safety of the miners. For an inactive mine, the mine inspector shall inspect all areas of the mine where persons may work or travel during the period the mine is an inactive mine.

B. The inspector shall make a personal examination of the interior of the mine, and of the outside of the mine where any danger may exist to the miners.

1997, c. 390.

§ 45.1-161.292:62. Certificates of inspection.

A. Upon completing a mine inspection, a mine inspector shall complete a certificate regarding such inspections. The certificate of inspection shall show the date of inspection, the condition in which the mine is found, a statement regarding any violations of this chapter and Chapters 14.5 (§ 45.1-161.293 et seq.) and 14.6 (§ 45.1-161.304 et seq.) discovered during the inspection, the progress made in the improvement of the mine as such progress relates to health and safety, the number of accidents and injuries occurring in and about the mine since the previous inspection, and all other facts and information of public interest concerning the condition of the mine as may be useful and proper.

B. The mine inspector shall deliver one copy of the certificate of inspection to the licensed operator, agent or mine foreman, and one copy to the employees' safety committee where applicable, and shall post copies at a prominent place or places on the premises where it can be read conveniently by the miners.

C. With respect to underground mineral mines, the Department shall provide access to certificates of inspection to the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

1997, c. 390; 1998, c. 695.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of these sections may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.

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