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Mine Safety and Health Compliance Positions
Significant Points

This series covers two-grade interval administrative positions that administer, supervise, lead, or perform work that involves:

  • conducting periodic compliance determinations;
  • developing, advising on, or interpreting mine safety and health laws, regulations, standards, and practices;
  • investigating accidents and reports of unsafe conditions in mines;
  • investigating complaints filed by mine workers and their representatives;
  • performing promotional, advisory, and administrative functions; and
  • participating in developing policies, programs, regulations, standards, and other guidelines to further the safety and health of mine workers.

Inspectors may determine and/or adjust monetary penalties assessed against violators of mine safety and health laws or regulations. This series covers work concerned with underground and surface mining and milling operations associated with coal, metal and nonmetal mines, and plants where ores are processed for distribution. Positions in this series require:

  • practical knowledge of mining and/or milling methods and processes;
  • knowledge of safety and health practices, principles, programs, and hazards applicable to the mining industry; and
  • knowledge of current laws, regulations, and standards for mine safety and health.
Nature of the Work

Titling

The basic titles for positions in this series are:

Mine Safety and Health Inspector - For positions that include inspecting mines and milling operations for compliance with Federal and State safety and health laws, regulations, and standards.

Mine Safety and Health Specialist - For positions that include promoting and enforcing mine safety and health beyond routine inspections and investigations such as:

  • developing mine safety and health standards, policies, guidelines, and regulations;
  • sampling for health standards and non-routine health hazards;
  • advising on the application and implementation of safety and health standards; and
  • reviewing and adjusting proposed civil penalties.

General Occupational Information

Mine inspectors and specialists develop, enforce, promote, advise on, and administer laws and regulations concerning safety and health in mines and plants that are part of the mining process. A mine is defined as a pit or excavation from which mineral substances are taken. Minerals which are located in mines include a wide range of substances, including stone, coal, salt, sand, gold, and copper. A plant (sometimes referred to as a mill or a preparation plant) is a facility where ore that has been removed from the earth is processed into a distinct mineral of a particular size and consistency. This process typically involves separating the waste (e.g., rock, dirt, and miscellaneous other minerals) from the desired mineral, and cleaning, drying, sizing, grinding, crushing, heat treating, packaging, and shipping.

The Mine Safety and Health Act requires that information be obtained about safety and health conditions in and around mines by:

  • making periodic onsite inspections of the facilities; and
  • evaluating certain plans of operation and samples of conditions that mine operators are required to maintain.

Inspectors and specialists issue citations or Orders of Withdrawal when they find violations of health or safety regulations. The mine operator is then obligated to correct the violations within a reasonable period of time. When inspectors or specialists issue Orders of Withdrawal to mine operators, they can either close a segment or the entire mine to protect the safety and/or health of the workers. Under provisions of the law, mine owners receive a monetary penalty for each violation.

Federal laws and standards regulate a variety of hazardous and potentially hazardous conditions in and around mines. For example, the laws and regulations for underground and surface mines and mills address:

  • roof supports (underground) and ground controls (surface);
  • ventilation;
  • combustible materials and rock dusting (e.g., coal);
  • electrical equipment;
  • electrical systems;
  • fire protection;
  • blasting and explosives;
  • hoisting;
  • loading and haulage;
  • equipment operation and maintenance; and
  • accident prevention and safety programs.

Providing technical advice and guidance to mine operators on how to comply with health and safety requirements is another important aspect of this occupation. Mine operators who have small or inadequate technical staffs, in particular, utilize the capabilities of mine safety and health inspectors and specialists to help them solve mine safety and health problems. To perform mine safety and health duties, inspectors and specialists must have knowledge of:

  • processes, systems, methods, and equipment used in mining and milling operations; and
  • underground and/or surface mining processes and systems, including:
    • transporting workers, supplies, and ore;
    • mining the ore;
    • ventilating and controlling airborne contaminants;
    • roof supports (underground) and ground controls (surface);
    • maintaining mechanical and electrical machinery and equipment;
    • preventing and controlling fires;
    • draining water; and
    • controlling noise.

Inspector Functions

Most positions in this occupation are directly involved in making onsite inspections and, in some circumstances, investigations. Federal laws require periodic safety and health inspections of total mining operations. Inspectors also perform limited inspections that target specific safety and health issues or problems; e.g., dust control, ventilation, roof control, or follow-up on previous inspections. General safety and health inspections typically involve:

  • reviewing the mine operator's records of safety inspections, health sampling, and accident reports;
  • examining the condition of the roof (underground) and highwall or slope (surface) for stability and conformity with the roof or ground control plans;
  • measuring the flow of air and airborne contaminants;
  • examining the condition of equipment and machinery for proper maintenance and for permissibility in coal and other gassy mines;
  • observing worker habits; e.g., whether workers:
    • follow good safety practices in performing duties; and
    • wear or use appropriate protective equipment;
  • measuring noise levels;
  • examining electrical systems, cables, and equipment for adequacy, maintenance, proper grounding, permissibility, and protection from live currents;
  • examining the storage and transportation of explosives for regulatory agencies such as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms;
  • examining hoisting facilities;
  • examining the condition of haul roads for adequate clearances, grading, and maintenance;
  • holding an opening and close out conference with the mine operator and labor representatives to discuss the inspection; and
  • advising the mine operator on methods of improving operations and/or correcting violations.

Inspectors also investigate accidents, disasters, and complaints to determine whether laws and regulations have been violated. They identify the causes of accidents and disasters and determine how they might be prevented. Sometimes the cause(s) of accidents are apparent from a few simple observations and discussions. Other times there may be no apparent explanation. Inspectors specializing in various areas of mining (such as electrical and ventilation) may be requested to make an in-depth technical analysis of the conditions and circumstances surrounding an accident.

In rescue and recovery operations, a mine inspector may issue orders as deemed necessary to ensure the safety of any person in a mine. If determined appropriate, an inspector on the scene may direct and supervise rescue and recovery operations.

Specialist Functions

Specialists in this series perform these other functions as part of administering the Mine Safety and Health Act:

  • evaluating the overall design and layout of roof controls and ventilation plans for conformance with health and safety laws and regulations;
  • developing regulations, policies, guidelines, and enforcement programs;
  • evaluating requests from mine operators to deviate from Federal standards;
  • administering and managing a variety of health and safety programs;
  • assessing penalties for violations of the health and safety regulations;
  • reviewing and commenting on petitions for modifications from owners;
  • serving as a liaison between the agency and the district on hazard complaints from miners; and
  • conducting accountability (quality control) inspections throughout the district.
Mine Inspector Career Trainee Program

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) is looking for motivated professionals committed to ensuring the health and safety of our Nation's miners. If that describes you, attend one of their on-site employment screenings held throughout the United States to be considered for a Mine Safety and Health Inspector position. Upon successful completion of math and writing tests, you will be interviewed by MSHA managers and supervisors for possible employment opportunities. If you are selected, you will be hired as a Federal Career Intern and placed in a formal training program designed to prepare you for a career as a Mine Safety and Health Inspector.

Why work for MSHA? MSHA is a Federal government agency dedicated to sending Miners home safe and healthy every shift, every day. MSHA offers health, life, and long-term care insurance; a stable retirement program, including a tax-deferred savings plan; generous annual, sick, and holiday leave; a 40-hour work week; travel reimbursement; and, flexible spending accounts for medical and dental expenses. Inspector positions are generally filled at the GS-9 level. Locality pay may apply, depending on the job location.

Seating for employment screenings will be limited, so advance registration is strongly encouraged. To-register, go to www.msha.gov, click on 'Jobs at MSHA', select the job in your area, read and follow the application procedures, and submit your application. Employment screening reservations will be made on a first-come, first-served basis and will be based on the date your application is received by the MSHA Human Resources Division in Arlington, Virginia. Indicate the locations for which you are applying and if you are claiming veteran's preference. Incomplete applications which do not include your phone number, address, and information on citizenship and basic qualification requirements will not be considered. You must be available for on-site interviews and/or testing for each location to which you apply. Travel and transportation expenses are the responsibility of the applicant.

You must provide a current valid photo ID (such as a driver's license) and a complete job application (e.g., resume) to participate in the job screening. Completed applications will be accepted on-site at the beginning of the employment screening sessions on a first-come, first-serve basis for available seating. If you are excluded from the screening because seating capacity is reached, your application will be considered for a future employment screening session for your location. Late arrivals may not be evaluated.

MSHA is an equal opportunity employer and provides reasonable accommodations on a case-by-case basis.

For questions regarding this program please email MSHA at MSHAJOBS@dol.gov.

Individual Occupational Requirements

EDUCATION AND EXPERIENCE REQUIREMENTS

The following table shows the amounts of education and/or experience required to qualify for positions covered by this standard.

GRADE EXPERIENCE EDUCATION
General Specialized
GS-5 3 years as defined below None 4-year course of study above high school in any field
GS-7 None 1 year equivalent to at least GS-5, as defined below for Inspector or Specialist positions 1 full academic year of graduate level education as defined below
GS-9 (Other than Electrical Inspector Positions) None 1 year equivalent to at least GS-7, as defined below for Inspector or Specialist positions 2 full academic years of graduate level education or master's or equivalent graduate degree in a field of study defined below

GS-9 and above Electrical Inspector Positions

and

GS-11 and above Specialist Positions

None 1 year equivalent to at least next lower level, as defined below for Inspector or Specialist positions None

Equivalent combinations of education and experience are qualifying for positions and grade levels for which both education and experience are acceptable.

EXPERIENCE

For GS-5: Experience that provided a knowledge of:

  • Mining operations, e.g., as a miner; or
  • Comparable working environments, such as construction, excavation, or heavy equipment operation, or of health or safety inspection or investigation in industrial settings; or
  • Maintaining engine-driven machinery or equipment; or
  • Electrical equipment or electrical systems.

Completion of an apprenticeship training program in a recognized trade or craft related to the position is acceptable as general experience.

Specialized Experience:

For GS-7 In-Service Placement: GS-6, technical support work directly related to mine safety and health, found in the GS-1311, Physical Science Technician Series and some other one-grade interval series, is creditable for inservice placement into all GS-7 positions in this series.

Inspector Positions:

For GS-7: On-site safety/health inspection, analysis, monitoring, or evaluation work in occupational health, or mining or closely related industries, such as building construction, excavation, and heavy industrial plant settings. Examples of creditable experience in related non-mining work include work that provided the applicant with knowledge of ground control at building sites, safe worksite practices, and/or environmental conditions that affect the health of workers at foundries, mills, and other inherently dangerous industrial settings. For example, performance of safety and health inspection work at a steel mill would qualify at this grade level, but agricultural inspection work would not.

For GS-9: Mining, mine engineering, or on-site mine safety and health inspection experience performing a full range of tasks and operating a variety of equipment in underground or surface mines, or mineral processing plants. This includes practical mining experience in planning, installing, operating, monitoring, or maintaining a system or equipment for extracting the ore from the earth.

Specialized experience should include extensive hands-on mining experience that provided the applicant with a comprehensive knowledge of mining methods, equipment, and occupational health and safety hazards. Specifically, applicants should have knowledge of the transportation of materials and workers, ventilation in closed spaces, ground control, roof control (for underground positions), handling and storage of hazardous materials, worksite safety practices, worksite environmental conditions that affect the health of workers, and/or accident prevention.

For GS-9 and Above Inspector (Electrical) Positions:All applicants for Inspector (Electrical) positions at GS-9 and above must meet the specialized experience requirements for inspector positions and, in addition have experience in designing, installing, and/or maintaining a mine electrical system or electrical mining equipment. Experience as a certified mine electrician is qualifying. Education alone is not qualifying for these positions.

Specialist Positions:

For GS-7/9: Applicants must have mine safety or health experience that demonstrated the ability to analyze problems and identify significant factors, gather pertinent data, and recognize solutions; plan and organize work; and communicate effectively orally and in writing.

Examples of creditable experience include: acting on requests to vary Federal standards; analyzing and evaluating inspection data; developing policies, guidelines, and enforcement programs; evaluating the adequacy of Federal mine safety and health programs; assessing penalties for violations of regulations; and advising mine operators and manufacturers on issues and standards.

For All Positions at GS-11 and Above: Experience performing mine safety and health inspection, analysis and evaluation of health/safety aspects of mining industry operations and processes; or evaluation, analysis or development of agency programs.

Examples of creditable experience include: direct on-site inspection; special accident investigation; development of mine safety and health standards; data analysis and evaluation of operational mine safety and health programs; special assessments; and development of industry-wide training or safety and health awareness programs.

OR

EDUCATION

For GS-5: Four years of undergraduate study or bachelor's degree in any field.
For GS-7/9: Graduate education in fields such as mining engineering, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, industrial engineering, environmental engineering, industrial hygiene, occupational health and safety, geology, chemistry, or other fields of study related to mine safety and health work.

USE OF SELECTIVE FACTORS

Some positions in this series require knowledge, skills, and abilities in addition to or more specific than those described in this qualification standard. For successful performance in such positions, selective factors may be required to ensure that applicants have the necessary background. For example, consideration may need to be limited for some positions to applicants with experience in certain categories of mines (e.g., coal vs. metal and nonmetal, or surface vs. underground), or those with particular expertise in special aspects of mining (e.g., electrical, roof control, ventilation, etc.).

Applicants for positions that require operation of a motor vehicle must have a valid State driver's license and appropriate authorization under the Federal Motor Vehicle Operator's Program.

MEDICAL REQUIREMENTS

Applicants and employees must be physically able to perform arduous duties efficiently and without hazard to themselves or others. Medical examination is required for all applicants for positions that involve regular or intermittent performance of inspection, investigation, rescue duties, or duties involving on-site visits. Medical conditions that constitute a hazard to safe and efficient job performance are disqualifying. The presence of medical disorders that would be aggravated by the environmental conditions of these positions and thereby hinder safe and efficient job performance are also disqualifying.

Remediable defects and/or curable diseases will not permanently disqualify an applicant for appointment, but may result in the applicant's suspension from the appropriate list of eligibles pending submission of medical evidence or correction of the condition.

Uncorrected distant vision must test at least 20/50 Snellen in one eye and 20/70 in the other, correctable with eyeglasses (contact lenses are not acceptable) to at least 20/30 Snellen in one eye and 20/50 in the other. Near vision must be sufficient to read without strain printed material the size of typewritten characters Normal depth perception and field of vision are required, as is the ability to distinguish basic colors.

Applicants, with or without the use of a hearing aid, must have no hearing loss in either ear of more than 40 decibels in the 500, 1000, or 2000 Hz ranges.

Additional Sources

Information on obtaining Mine Safety and Health Inspection positions with the Federal Government is available from the Office of Personnel Management through USAJOBS, the Federal Government's official employment information system. This resource for locating and applying for job opportunities can be accessed through the Internet at http://www.usajobs.gov or through an interactive voice response telephone system at (703) 724–1850 or  (703) 724–1850  or TDD (978) 461–8404 and   (978) 461–8404. These numbers are not toll free, and charges may result. For advice on how to find and apply for Federal jobs, download the Insider's Guide to the Federal Hiring Process” online here.

Source: OPM's Position Classification Standards for White Collar Work


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