MSHA initiated the "100 Percent Plan" in October 2007 after being criticized for failing to complete the number of inspections required by law: four times a year at each underground mine, twice yearly at surface mines. Most deficiencies occurred in West Virginia.
The MSHA district that includes Utah had not been a problem area. District 9 inspectors completed 100 percent of their required checks in 2005 and 97.9 percent in 2006. The rate slipped to 78 percent in 2007, said agency spokeswoman Amy Louviere, largely because so much time was focused on rescue and recovery efforts at Utah's Crandall Canyon mine, where nine miners died in two implosions of the mine walls.
MSHA Director Richard Stickler blamed the incomplete inspection record on personnel shortages.
To bridge the gap, MSHA inspectors were reassigned temporarily to districts in need of help; 190,000 hours of overtime were logged. Since July 2006, 360 new coal-mine inspectors were hired. Funding for 55 more inspectors of metal and nonmetal mines is in the current year's budget.
Inspectors wrote more than 172,000 citations and orders since the program was initiated, Stickler noted.