|The South Dakota Strategy|
When their "houses were clean", then came the "0 Citation Inspections"
There is a lot of media attention given to our large Road Material firms. Sometimes it is forgotten that the backbone of our Industry is the smaller producer with fewer employees who mostly serve their local markets. These smaller companies have the same problems with compliance, injuries, predictable production, etc. as the giant firms do. Yet they do not have the extensive Safety Departments which the bigger companies enjoy. The heartening point is that they succeed with the commitment and support of their total workforces. Myrl and Roy's Paving, Inc. in Sioux Falls, SD is a shining example of one of those successful smaller firms. To quote Melisa Lukins, their HR/Safety Officer, " We do it from beginning to end". At the peak of their season there are approximately 170 employees in the aggregates, batch, and paving operations. One of those committed employees is Marty Kockx, who is in charge of their Sioux Falls Wash Plant. Though he has occasional helpers, according to the company he is a "one man show".
On April 14 Marty's Wash Plant had a "0 Citation" MSHA Inspection!
Ms. Lukins, HR/Safety Officer, attended the $afepro Law Seminar sponsored by the South Dakota AGC in February and began training in the process of Law-based $afe Production. Marty and his Wash Plant's compliance are proof of Myrl and Roy's Paving's quick "return on investment". This Miner's commitment to excellence is a shining example for our Industry's employees to emulate. Doing the safety and production portions of the job equally well means higher profits for the company and better standard of living for every family within the organization.
The Industry and $afepro congratulate Mr. Kockx and Myrl and Roy's Paving for this professional accomplishment.
The next step was Formal Contestment of the questionable citations. It became obvious that the problem was uneven enforcement on the part of the Regional and District MSHA offices. This was obvious as "bad" citations were overturned or withdrawn under the right granted them in Sec. 105 of The ACT.
Next, they exercised their Constitutional Rights as Business People.
Their Inspectors, however, continued their bullying tactics. Finally, after receiving no relief from the Agency, they met with their Congressional representatives and staffs on July 11, 2005. 25+ SD Mining firms attended.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled. That this Act may be cited as the "Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977".
SEC. 2. Congress declares that--
(a) the first priority and concern of all in the coal or other mining industry must be the health and safety of its most precious resource--the miner;
d) the existence of unsafe and unhealthful
conditions and practices in the Nation's coal or
other mines is a serious impediment to the future
growth of the coal or other mining industry and
cannot be tolerated;
the disruption of production and the loss of income
to operators and miners as a result of coal or
other mine accidents or occupationally caused
diseases unduly impedes and burdens commerce.
Excellent management and commitment to good business practices, under Law, brought quick results.
The week of July 18, 2005 the Regional Supervisory Inspector, Rapid City office was reassigned and the District Manager will retire.
The Mine Safety and Health of 1977 applies equally to both the Production and Enforcement elements of this economically vital American Industry. If a Producer is not receiving equitable enforcement then the Agency is out of compliance. Courting Inspectors does not result in either favors or special treatment. They are not the Industry's "Safety Consultants"! They are enforcement officers whose product is Citations and the costs of abating their personal agendas as reflected in citations which have no legal basis.
MSHA inspectors and their managers have no authority to fabricate Law. Constitutionally, only the Congress of the United States may formulate Law and Regulations.
The South Dakota Mining Industry is to be commended for insisting on their right to continue its economically vital endeavor protected by their constitutional guarantees .