Safe Sites: New Site Regulations Area Managers Should Be Aware of in 2017

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female hand signing contract.

Due to shifting regulations, 2017 is shaping up to be a year of real uncertainty in the mining and construction industries. For executives and area managers who are simply trying to do their jobs, this uncertainty can be concerning.

We’re going to take a look at four regulations to keep your eyes on so you can stay on the right side of the law in 2017.


How to Navigate the MSHA’s Examination of Working Places Rule

On May 23, the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s new rule on examining workplaces will take effect. This will allow the MHSA to

  • conduct workplace examinations before work begins,
  • give notification to miners who are affected by hazardous conditions, and
  • have access to records of when and where examinations were carried out, as well as what conditions were found.

That all sounds fairly straightforward, but a couple of issues remain. First of all, will examinations conducted before someone’s work begins create new challenges?

“Currently, safety examinations must occur sometime during a shift, which could mean at the end of a shift when workers have already spent hours exposed to an undetected hazard,” Kristen Beckman writes at

“The new rule specifies that examinations must occur before work begins in an area, but that requirement prompts questions such as how mines that operate multiple or overlapping shifts will schedule examinations.”

The bigger issue, however, is one that will come up a few more times below — will the Trump administration change all of these policies drastically?

“The industry now, with the change in administration, will be in a wait-and-see approach to see what happens,” Jason Nutzman, a partner at Dinsmore & Shohl L.L.P., tells Beckman. “There is plenty of time for the Trump administration to pull it back, but it may not be high on their radar, so it may slip through the cracks.”

construction site at sunset

OSHA Enforcement Will Likely Change Under Trump

One organization that probably will not slip through the cracks is OSHA, which in October proposed 18 changes to its construction, recordkeeping, maritime and general industry standards.

The team at ConstructConnect has an excellent overview of what these changes would entail. Among 15 other changes, these would:

  • update the Mine Safety Health Administration’s standards on using diesel-powered equipment used underground,
  • require managers to ensure that cell phones can contact 911 effectively on the worksite,
  • and revise criteria for ascertaining whether a person’s hearing loss was work-related.

Legal experts, however, believe Trump administration plans for OSHA (which could include funding cuts) will reposition it as an organization that focuses more on compliance assistance and cooperation, not enforcement, Safety+Health’s Tom Musick writes.

Further, Justin M. Reese, assistant VP and senior risk consultant at HUB International, predicts that a 2015 rule allowing OSHA penalties to increase annually to essentially keep pace with inflation might get overturned, or at least undercut in power.

At state and city levels of government, regulatory measures continue to move forward. As Sally Goldenberg and Gloria Pazmino report at Politico, New York’s city council is in the process of introducing several bills that “would require additional safety training, mandate an apprenticeship program, address how fatalities are reported by the Department of Buildings and create a minority workforce task force.”


Where the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Directive Stands

An executive order from President Obama signed in 2014, Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces rule was slated for repeal under President Trump.

That rule would have required contractors bidding on federal projects “to attest to whether they have had violations of the covered labor laws resulting in any ‘administrative merits determinations, civil judgments, or arbitral awards or decisions’ issued within the preceding three years,” the legal team at Littler Mendelson wrote in August. “It has been left to the [Department of Labor] to define the scope of such reportable violations or ‘labor law decisions.’”

Beginning this year, that EO would have required federal contractors and subcontractors to provide wage statements to employees and disclose any violations of 14 specific federal laws from the previous year, attorney Erik Dullea writes at The Contractor’s Perspective. In 2016, a federal district court in Texas hampered the order’s implementation, but now Congress is in a position to do away with it outright.

At the end of January, however, House Republicans introduced a resolution to overturn that EO, the Mechanical Contractors Association of America reports, and on February 2 the House voted 236-187 to overturn the resolution, which means it only now awaits President Trump’s signature for the congressional veto to become enacted.

two workers and quarry in background

Where the Directive Requiring Paid Sick Leave for Federal Contractors Stands

Another EO from the Obama Administration that Republicans are targeting is the Paid Sick Leave for Federal Contractors order, which would have granted some 1.2 million people access to paid sick leave, AFCEA International says.

“The action arguably will improve the overall health and performance of the work force,” the organization writes. “Those who drag themselves to work coughing and sneezing — and infecting others — now can recuperate at home. The rule also brings the benefits packages of these workers in line with other companies, ensuring that federal contractors remain competitive employers.”

But Joe Davidson at The Washington Post reports President Trump intends to roll back that order, among several others. Those others, Davidson reports, include:

  • establishment of a $10.10 hourly minimum wage,
  • prohibitions against discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity,
  • and a directive “to maintain Federal leadership in sustainability and greenhouse gas emission reductions.”

During any administrative turnovers in the White House, there is always some uncertainty in what laws apply and how they will be enforced. During the year, the dust will begin to settle, and some clarity will emerge.

In the meantime, decision-makers in our industry will have their hands full keeping up to date with what rules apply to them.

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Mining Industry Recruiters: 20 Professionals that Companies and Job Seekers Should Know

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Investors and industry insiders are bullish on the mining industry’s prospects for 2017, which is good news for anyone looking to break into the industry, or looking for a new opportunity.

Whether you’re a fresh graduate, a mid-career professional looking to make a move up, or someone with a need for adventure on an international assignment, you will want to take a look at the list below. We’ve found 20 of the best mining and engineering recruiters in North America (plus one in Europe if you’re thinking it’s time for an overseas move).


Waseem Akhtar, Baffinland Iron Mines Corp

A veteran recruiter, Waseem Akhtar in Oakville, Ontario, specializes in placing engineers and engineering management professionals in mining and oil roles, civil engineering roles, and roles focused on working with contaminated sites. He manages a team of four other recruiters, all of whom have experience placing people throughout Canada.


Lacey Anderson, Modular Mining Systems

Lacey Anderson is Modular Mining Systems’ lead recruiter down in Tucson, Arizona, where for more than two years she has placed a variety of engineers, including mining engineers, project managers and even software developers. Her company has built hardware and software for the mining industry for nearly four decades, and it currently employs hundreds of people around the world.


Joe Arch, Arch Premier Search

An experienced HR and safety manager, Joe Arch founded his own recruitment firm in Omaha in 2012 to connect mining and metals companies with talented workers. Arch says his near-decade experience in the industry gives him a special insight into those companies’ needs. “By networking with mining and metals professionals every day, we have unique insight on what’s going on in the industry,” he says.


Jane Banks, Stratum International

With 18 years’ experience in international executive recruitment, Jane Banks is an excellent contact for any mining and metals executives looking for a new opportunity. Banks has over 13 years of comprehensive, hands-on experience exclusively in mining recruitment for corporate and operations roles, with over 600 completed searches within the mining sector.


Remco Doensen, Inter Find Recruitment

Anyone looking for opportunities overseas might want to speak with Remco Doensen in Holland, whose firm works with mining and engineering companies throughout Africa and The Middle East. Doensen’s specialties include geosciences, drilling, mine construction, engineering, mine operations and mineral processing.


Denise Dwyer, Kelly Engineering Resources

Denise Dwyer in Pleasanton, California, has more than 15 years’ experience as a corporate recruiter. Kelly Engineering Resources works across a variety of industries, but Dwyer brings to that team experience in engineering, plant layout, mining engineering, metallurgy and environmental placements.

Robin Harpe, Harpe & Associates, Inc.

An independent contract recruiter based out of Atlanta, Robin Harpe has spent more than three decades working in talent acquisition, during which time she’s offered HR consulting to more than 25 startups. Her specialties include cement manufacturing and heavy industry.


Mark Lempner, Midland Consultants

Mark Lempner in Northern Ohio is a logistics, mining and petroleum recruiter for Midland Consultants, a 44-year-old company that performs talent acquisition and placement in a variety of industries. Lempner’s own specialties include surface and underground mining professionals, environmental coordinators, and mine engineers.


Joline Lenz, The LENZ Firm

Veteran Bay Area recruiter Joline Lenz founded her own manufacturing-focused recruitment company, The LENZ Firm, which has offices in Northern California and Denver. “Every time I visit a manufacturing company/plant, I’m always amazed by the innovation, technology, and the people I meet,” she says. “Over the last two decades, the evolution of technology, systems, and the marketplace has been drastic. The only unwavering factor that supports the industry with its ongoing success is the people.”


Sarah Lightner, Geotemps, Inc.

Based in Reno, Nevada, Sarah Lightner has three decades of experience helping people launch careers in natural resources and mining jobs. Since April 2015, she has served as the direct placement manager at Geotemps, which works with companies in hard rock mining, coal, oil and gas, geothermal, and several other sectors.


Bob Lundblad, The Recruitment Group, LLC

Bob Lundblad in San Diego is the founder and CEO of The Recruitment Group, a firm that focuses on the IT, engineering, construction and natural resources sectors. “My core recruiting philosophy is networking based,” he says. “Whether it be through my own assignments or in helping other recruiters and colleagues, my goal is to be a ‘connector’ within our focus industries. I strive to build relationships that allow me to network deep within these select industries. I do my recruiting by networking, not headhunting.”


Sharon Marston, Salt Lake Recruiters

Sharon Marston is the owner of Salt Lake Recruiters, a company that specializes in finding engineering, business and science talent. For the last 12 years, Marston has helped recruit for industries such as alternative energy, civil engineering, manufacturing and mining engineering.


Dan O’Connor, Ted Nelson & Associates

Dan O’Connor is the VP of cement, lime and minerals processing recruitment at Ted Nelson & Associates, a company that’s been finding talented workers in heavy industry for 37 years. O’Connor himself is well-versed in the needs of companies that process cement, lime, potash, soda ash and other minerals.

Carolyn Pedersen-Howard, Mine Staffing International

Carolyn Pedersen-Howard is a senior recruiter at Mine Staffing International, a recruitment consultancy with an ever-expanding global footprint. Pedersen-Howard herself brings a background in psychology and philosophy to the team, as well as previous experience at Rio Tinto and Newport Mining.


Andrew Pollard, The Mining Recruitment Group Ltd.

Andrew Pollard, president of The Mining Recruitment Group in Vancouver, is one of Canada’s leading executive search experts. He founded his company in 2006 and has since gone on to advise smaller companies all the way up to international firms with $20 billion market caps.


Ron Powell, Woodmoor Group

Woodmoor Group SVP and Executive Recruiter Ron Powell brings a long and distinguished career as an officer in the U.S. Air Force (3,400-plus flight hours, he notes). Since 2006, he has led Woodmoor Group’s recruitment efforts in the hard rock, precious metals and base metals mining industries.


Patrick Salerno, Johnson Search Group

Another veteran, Patrick Salerno served as a Supply Chain Logistics Manager/Recruiter in the U.S. Army for 20 years before moving into the private sector. Today, he is an executive recruiter for the Johnson Search Group’s mining division, which has experience in every aspect of mining and heavy industry.


Justin Sivey, Lithko Contracting LLC

Justin Sivey is the head of Lithko’s recruiting and talent acquisition unit in Denver, bringing with him plenty of experience in recruiting for engineering, mining, minerals, cement and other sectors.

“Because we are growing rapidly, and promoting from within, roles constantly open up at all levels, from field and project roles, to operations and business unit leaders,” he writes. “For career development, we don’t just stop with orientation. Depending on the role, integrations range from specific alignments on project items, to guided processes with designated mentors showing you the way. These processes are used to facilitate career advancement.”


Larry Stauffer, Specialized Career Search

Larry Stauffer is an Allentown, Pennsylvania-based executive recruiter who specializes in mining, energy and process industries. He founded Specialized Career Search in 2008 and oversees a team of recruiters who have placed hundreds of candidates in roles over the last eight-plus years.


Craig Wangberg, SNI Energy

Craig Wangberg is a U.S. Navy veteran, having served four years of active duty on board the USS Meyerkord FF-1058 and earning the rank of 2nd Class Petty Officer. Since then, he has gained more than a decade of experience in talent acquisition and consulting firms with their staffing and leadership needs. Some of the industries he focuses on at SNI Energy include mining, energy, oil and gas, and governments.
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Blast Overpressure Versus Noise

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People often confuse blast overpressure and noise. An over-simplistic comparison is that noise is what the human ear can hear. Blast overpressure, however, is often below the range of human hearing.

The typical range of human hearing is from 20 Hz to 20 KHz. This range can of course vary significantly between individuals. Blast overpressure may often be very low in frequency, 2 Hz or less. By definition, blast overpressure is the pressure generated by a blast that is over and above atmospheric pressure.

Although blast overpressure is often below the range of human hearing, it can cause structural response that is quite noticeable to those inside a structure. It is not possible to gauge the amount of blast overpressure by what is heard outside. How many times have you been outside near a blast, heard virtually nothing, and yet still received a complaint call that was overpressure related?

There are generally five sources of blast-generated overpressure (from the ISEE Blasters’ Handbook 18th Edition):

Air Pressure Pulse – Low frequency pressure caused by rock displacement at the face (piston-like movement or bulking of the rock mass).
Gas Release Pulse – High frequency pressure caused by gases venting through the face.
Stemming Release Pulse – High frequency pressure caused by gases venting through the stemming.
Rock Pressure Pulse – Typically insignificant air pressure generated by the ground vibration.
Noise – High frequency energy from detonating cord or surface delays.


Taken from White Seismology’s newsletter

Written by Randy Wheeler, President of White Industrial Seismology


Effect of Blasting Air Overpressure on Residential Structures

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A Summary of U.S. Bureau of Mines Research

When explosives are used to break rock in a mine or construction project, the blast produces both ground vibration and air overpressure (noise).  In most cases the atmosphere selectively absorbs the higher frequencies from a blast, leaving relatively low Read more

A Neighbor’s Guide to Understanding the Effects From Nearby Blasting Operations

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Let’s address some issues that come up frequently in conversations with neighbors concerned with the effects of blasting at nearby mining operations. San Antonio and our neighboring cities along the I-35 corridor lie on the Balcones fault line, a major limestone deposit which provides limestone materials to communities lying to the east, including major cities like Houston and Corpus Christi. Quarries in this area mine the rock, crush it into various sizes and send it to areas that cannot mine it themselves locally.

The vibrations produced by quarry blasting have been a source of concern and frustration for neighboring communities as long as people have occupied homes or businesses near these active aggregate producing operations. In order to ensure that the environmental impact from blasting on neighbors and businesses is not negative, instruments called seismographs are set in the field to record the intensity of energy that is felt wherever the instrument is located. Using data from these seismographs, or seismometers, we have learned much about the effects from blasting.

It is important to begin by explaining that what people living near a quarry may feel is a combination of ground vibration and air over pressure. In a perfect world, 100% of the energy produced by explosives loaded into the ground would go in to breaking the rock. If that were the case, no energy would be felt by anyone immediately outside the quarry. However, this is not possible. That being said, a well executed blast uses as much energy as possible in the fracturing of the rock, and leaves very little to escape into the surrounding environment. It is this escaping energy that is the topic of much neighborhood conversation and concern.

Energy that isn’t used for breaking rock travels either through the remaining rock, or through the air. A seismograph records the intensity of escaping energy using a microphone to measure changes in air overpressure (that is, over normal atmospheric pressure), and a transducer to measure ground vibration.

Escaping energy from a blast that travels through the air produces a temporary increase in air pressure much like a clap of thunder or a jet engine from aircraft traveling overhead. This increase in air pressure, called air overpressure, is measured in decibals. Air overpressure travels in a wave form and much like a wind, pushes on anything in its path. However, this pulse comes and goes much more quickly than a gust of wind. It is this wave that is “caught” temporarily by surfaces in its path, like the sides of structures, before it is quickly released. Air pressure can be an annoyance even at low levels and once it reaches very high levels, can produce the potential for damage to structures. The criteria for safe blasting levels of air overpressure have been established and are well published after extensive testing and research by the United States Bureau of Mines. Air overpressure is produced where energy escapes through fractured rock and primarily travels in the direction that the rock being blasted moves. In this image below you can see the movement of rock at detonation. Air pressure increases in proportion to the amount of energy released between the fractured and moving pieces of rock. Therefore, changes in air overpressure are more discernable along this path and can sometimes be perceived miles away. There are several factors that make controlling and predicting air overpressure more difficult than ground vibration. Some of these factors include atmospheric conditions that change constantly, such as wind speed and direction, or thermoclines. These invisible thermoclines separate air with different temperatures or air traveling at different speeds. Because of this, it is universally considered optimum conditions for blasting when there is a clear cloudless sky with no wind. However, weather conditions can change very quickly and conditions that were perfect only moments before, can degrade, resulting in undesirable changes in air pressure for neighbors.

Ground vibration is produced by energy escaping through the remaining solid rock, so it tends to be more discernable behind the blast. Unlike air overpressure, the intensity of ground vibration tends to be more predictable since it travels through a more solid medium.

The human body is a very sensitive seismograph, but many people are confused by what they feel, misjudging air overpressure to be vibration, and vice versa. Because energy travels through the ground more quickly than it does through the air, seismographs and neighbors alike will perceive the vibration before the air overpressure. The greater the distance from the blast, the larger the gap in time between the arrival of the two. That is why some neighbors correctly describe feeling “two blasts”. They first perceive the ground moving, then the air moving.

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Neighbors who are unfamiliar with these dynamics of blasting cannot understand why what they feel tends to be different from one blast to another. It is not uncommon for a neighbor to feel very little on one blast, and then find another blast significantly more intense. The most obvious conclusion that can be reached is that a larger amount of explosive energy was used whenever the blasts are more perceptible. In fact, the amount of explosive energy used by rock producers is tightly controlled and selected as a result of much research. Seismic data collected from each blast is analyzed, and offers valuable information to ensure that the impact on neighbors is minimized. Despite this, factors like the weather and the orientation of the blast to neighbors, make predicting the effects difficult. That’s why conscientious operations have a blast monitoring program which offers them immediate feedback on every blast and protects them from overlooking variables that can produce undesirable results.

J.R. Heck
CEO, Firmatek Seismic, LLC

Blast Perception 101

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Over the years Firmatek Seismic has monitored thousands of quarry blasts, had many conversations with property owners, and drawn many a pictures to describe what occurs when a blast takes place.  I thought it might be helpful to post this simple video to help you understand what you may be feeling when your local quarry blasts.

Compaction and Airspace: The Keys to Landfill Profitability

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The business of landfills is air, selling empty space to be filled with solid waste, and in this industry not all air is equal. Landfills have the unique ability of being able to modify the lifespan of their product without changing the amount of product they started with.  It all comes down to compaction. Volume may be fixed, but density is not, and the more solid waste you can fit into a given volume, the more valuable that space is. That is why it is absolutely necessary to have an accurate and reliable way of tracking the change in the volume of solid waste before and after compaction. Read more

Case Study: 3D Mobile Scanning used in Reserve Calculation and Mineable Modeling

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“He inquired of Firmatek, LLC to see if there was a way to quantify his reserves and help him establish a profitable plan for excavating and updating the operation as the new mine progressed.”

In April of 2010 Firmatek performed services for a client who’d purchased a piece of property with the intention of mining it out.  By drilling core samples throughout the 500+ acre property Read more

3D Laser Mobile Mapping and the X-Ray Machine

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The history of man is described in relationship to events that alter its course.  Terms like “pre-Civil War”, “B.C.” or “before the Wright brothers” are used like a thumb tack in time to give context and understanding to a story.  These turning points are often moments in time when the ingenuity of man paves the way for a revolution in thought and industry.  One such example is the medical field before and after the intro Read more

How Can I View My Point Cloud Data and 3D Models?

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With the recent increase in the use of three-dimensional laser scanners to capture real world conditions, many forward-thinking operators are searching for ways to view, use and manipulate the resulting data.  Read more