Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 45.2. Mines, Minerals, and Energy
Chapter 5. Coal Mine Safety Act
5/26/2022

Article 7. Mine Inspections.

§ 45.2-559. (Effective October 1, 2021) Frequency of mine inspections.

The Chief shall conduct a complete inspection of each underground coal mine at least every 180 days and of each surface coal mine at least once per year. Additional inspections of coal mines shall be made when deemed appropriate by the Chief based on an evaluation of risks at each mine or if requested by miners employed at a mine or the operator of a mine.

Code 1950, §§ 45-4.1, 45-9, 45-12, 45-74; 1954, c. 191; 1966, c. 594, § 45.1-5; 1976, c. 598; 1978, c. 120; 1984, c. 236; 1985, c. 448; 1987, c. 470; 1990, c. 963; 1994, c. 28, § 45.1-161.81; 1997, c. 390; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-560. (Effective October 1, 2021) 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 at least annually, of the comparative risks at each underground coal mine and surface coal mine. The Department shall prepare its procedural policy 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 that shall be included in the risk assessment measures include: (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, including regulations adopted by the Department or the Board of Coal Mining Examiners, at the mine; and (iii) the frequency rates for nonserious accidents or nonfatal days lost.

B. The Chief shall schedule additional inspections at underground coal mines and surface coal mines based on the rating assigned to a mine reflecting the assessment of its risks compared to other such mines pursuant to the assessment described in subsection A.

1994, c. 28, § 45.1-161.82; 1997, c. 390; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-561. (Effective October 1, 2021) Review of inspection reports and records.

Prior to commencing an inspection of a coal mine, a mine inspector shall review the most recent available report of inspection by MSHA. During the course of a complete inspection of a coal mine, the mine inspector shall comprehensively review the records for the 30-day period preceding the inspection of pre-shift examinations, on-shift exams, daily inspections, and weekly examinations that are required to be maintained pursuant to the Act. The mine inspector may review the records for such additional period as he deems prudent. During the course of the inspection, the inspector shall review other records relating to safety and health conditions in the mine that are required to be maintained pursuant to the Act.

1994, c. 28, § 45.1-161.83; 1997, c. 390; 1999, c. 256; 2005, c. 3; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-562. (Effective October 1, 2021) 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 Chief or the Director.

B. All information reported to or otherwise obtained by the Chief or the Director or his authorized representative in connection with any inspection or proceeding under this title that contains or might reveal a trade secret referred to in 18 U.S.C. § 1905 shall be considered confidential for the purpose of that section, except that such information may be disclosed to the Chief or 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, the Chief, or the Director shall issue such orders as may be appropriate to protect the confidentiality of trade secrets.

1973, c. 425, § 40.1-51.3:1 ; 1976, c. 607, § 40.1-51.4:1 ; 1994, c. 28, § 45.1-161.84; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-563. (Effective October 1, 2021) Scheduling of mine inspections.

A. The Chief and 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 MSHA.

B. The Chief, the Director, and each mine inspector, 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.

1994, c. 28, § 45.1-161.85; 2011, cc. 826, 862; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-564. (Effective October 1, 2021) Denial of entry.

No person shall deny the Chief, the Director, or any mine inspector entry upon or through (i) a mine for the purpose of conducting an inspection or (ii) any office at the site where maps or records relating to the mine are located, in accordance with the Act.

Code 1950, § 45-17; 1954, c. 191; 1966, c. 594, § 45.1-105; 1975, c. 520; 1978, c. 118; 1980, c. 388; 1994, c. 28, § 45.1-161.86; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-565. (Effective October 1, 2021) Duties of operator.

A. The operator or his agent of each mine shall furnish the Chief and any mine inspector 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 or the Chief.

B. The operator of an underground coal mine or his agent shall provide a mine inspector or the Chief adequate means for transportation to the active working areas of the mine within a reasonable period of 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 or the Chief during the course of his inspection, promptly clear the mine or a section thereof of all persons.

D. The mine operator shall implement a substance abuse screening policy and program for all miners that shall, at a minimum, include:

1. A pre-employment, 10-panel urine test for the following and any other substances as set out in regulation adopted by the Board of Coal Mining Examiners:

a. Amphetamines;

b. Cannabinoids/THC;

c. Cocaine;

d. Opiates;

e. Phencyclidine (PCP);

f. Benzodiazepines;

g. Propoxyphene;

h. Methadone;

i. Barbiturates; and

j. Synthetic narcotics.

Samples shall be collected by providers who are certified as complying with standards and procedures set out in the U.S. Department of Transportation's rule, 49 C.F.R. Part 40. Collected samples shall be tested by laboratories certified by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for collection and testing. The mine operator may implement a more stringent substance abuse screening policy and program; and

2. The review of the substance abuse screening program with each miner at the time of employment and annually thereafter.

E. The operator or his agent shall notify the Chief, on a form prescribed by the Chief, within seven days of any failure of a pre-employment substance abuse screening test and shall provide a record of the test showing such failure or violation. Notice shall result in the immediate temporary suspension of all certificates held by the applicant, pending a hearing before the Board of Coal Mining Examiners.

F. The operator or his agent shall notify the Chief, on a form prescribed by the Chief, within seven days of (i) discharging a miner due to violation of the company's substance or alcohol abuse policies, (ii) a miner testing positive for intoxication while on duty status, or (iii) a miner testing positive as using any controlled substance without the prescription of a licensed prescriber. An operator that has a substance abuse program shall not be required to notify the Chief under clause (iii) unless the miner having tested positive fails to complete the operator's substance abuse program. The notification shall be accompanied by a record of the test showing such positive results or violation. Notice shall result in the immediate temporary suspension of all certificates held by the applicant, pending a hearing before the Board of Coal Mining Examiners.

G. The provisions of this chapter shall not be construed to preclude an employer from developing or maintaining a substance and alcohol abuse policy, testing program, or substance abuse program that exceeds the minimum requirements set forth in this section.

Code 1950, §§ 45-7, 45-12, 45-68.4, 45-69, 45-73, 45-75, 45-78, 45-79, 45-81, 45-83; 1950, p. 156; 1954, c. 191; 1966, c. 594, § 45.1-21; 1976, c. 598; 1978, cc. 222, 489; 1982, c. 255; 1984, cc. 178, 590; 1988, c. 577; 1993, cc. 171, 442; 1994, c. 28, § 45.1-161.87; 1999, c. 256; 2007, cc. 894, 914; 2010, cc. 809, 857; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-566. (Effective October 1, 2021) 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 inaccessible worked-out 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 might 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 that he is required to inspect in an underground coal mine. In a mine operating more than one shift in a 24-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.

Code 1950, §§ 45-4.1, 45-9, 45-12, 45-74; 1954, c. 191; 1966, c. 594, § 45.1-5; 1976, c. 598; 1978, c. 120; 1984, c. 236; 1985, c. 448; 1987, c. 470; 1990, c. 963; 1994, c. 28, § 45.1-161.88; 1996, c. 774; 1999, c. 256; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

§ 45.2-567. (Effective October 1, 2021) Inspection reports.

A. Upon completing a mine inspection, a mine inspector shall complete a report regarding such inspection. The inspection report shall show the date of inspection, the condition in which the mine is found, a statement regarding any violations of the Act 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 are useful and proper.

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

C. With respect to coal mines, the Department shall provide access to inspection reports to MSHA.

Code 1950, §§ 45-4.1, 45-9, 45-12, 45-74; 1954, c. 191; 1966, c. 594, § 45.1-5; 1976, c. 598; 1978, c. 120; 1984, c. 236; 1985, c. 448; 1987, c. 470; 1990, c. 963; 1994, c. 28, § 45.1-161.89; 1996, c. 774; 1997, c. 390; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.