Senate Bill No. 498

(By Senators Wagner, Schoonover, Miller, Bowman and Ross)


[Introduced February 19, 1996; referred to the Committee on Energy, Industry and Mining.]

A BILL to amend and reenact section fourteen, article one, chapter twenty-two-a of the code of West Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, relating to authority of director and inspectors to enter mines; duties of inspectors to examine mines; no advance notice; mandatory inspection reduction program; and reports after fatal accidents.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That section fourteen, article one, chapter twenty-two-a of the code of West Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, be amended and reenacted to read as follows:

§22A-1-14. Director and inspectors authorized to enter mines; duties of inspectors to examine mines; no advance notice; mandatory inspection reduction program; reports after fatal accidents.

The director, or his or her authorized representative, has authority to visit, enter, and examine any mine, whether underground or on the surface, and may call for the assistance of any district mine inspector or inspectors whenever such assistance is necessary in the examination of any mine. The operator of every coal mine shall furnish the director or his or her authorized representative proper facilities for entering such mine and making examination or obtaining information.
If miners or one of their authorized representatives, have reason to believe, at any time, that dangerous conditions are existing or that the law is not being complied with, they may request the director to have an immediate investigation made.
Mine inspectors shall devote their full time and undivided attention to the performance of their duties, and they shall examine all of the mines in their respective districts at least four times annually, except as hereinafter provided, and as often, in addition thereto, as the director may direct, or the necessities of the case or the condition of the mine or mines may require, with no advance notice of inspection provided to any person, and they shall make a personal examination of each working face and all entrances to abandoned parts of the mine where gas is known to liberate, for the purpose of determining whether an imminent danger, referred to in section fifteen of this article, exists in any such mine, or whether any provision of article two of this chapter is being violated or has been violated within the past forty-eight hours in any such mine. The director may approve fewer than four annual mine inspections for a particular mine based on the safety performance record and evaluation of risks at such mine.
Within one hundred twenty days of the effective date of this section, the director in consultation with the mine safety and technical review committee shall develop and implement a program of reduced mine inspections for mines that qualify based on a good safety performance record and low risk standing. The program shall contain criteria and standards for evaluating mine safety performance and conducting risk assessments at a mine. At a minimum, the following variables shall be examined as part of the mine evaluation: (1)Fatality and serious accident rate; (2) compliance history; (3)nonserious accident rate; (4)design and implementation of the comprehensive mine safety program; and (5)an analysis of state inspection records
In addition to the other duties imposed by this article and article two of this chapter, it is the duty of each inspector to note each violation he or she finds and issue a finding, order, or notice, as appropriate for each violation so noted. During the investigation of any accident, any violation may be noted whether or not the inspector actually observes the violation and whether or not the violation exists at the time the inspector notes the violation, so long as the inspector has clear and convincing evidence the violation has occurred or is occurring.
The mine inspector shall visit the scene of each fatal accident occurring in any mine within his or her district and shall make an examination into the particular facts of such accident; make a report to the director, setting forth the results of such examination, including the condition of the mine and the cause or causes of such fatal accident, if known, and all such reports shall be made available to the interested parties, upon written requests.
At the commencement of any inspection of a coal mine by an authorized representative of the director, the authorized representative of the miners at the mine at the time of such inspection shall be given an opportunity to accompany the authorized representative of the director on such inspection.

NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to implement a program where safe mines are inspected less than the mandatory four times annually.

Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from the present law, and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.