In the wake of two mine stakeholder safety summits held in less than four weeks, the U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration announced today it is stepping up efforts even further to counteract the recent spike in mining deaths.
Enforcement personnel from MSHA's coal and metal and nonmetal programs (along with field staff from the agency's Educational Policy and Development division) will visit mines across the country to conduct safety "walk and talks" with miners and mine operators to increase their awareness of recent fatalities and encourage them to apply their safety training and remain vigilant for unsafe conditions. Discussion topics will include: task training, mine examinations, causes of mining fatalities and best practices to prevent mine accidents.
Inspectors will continue to look for the types of conditions that led to recent mining deaths and exercise their enforcement authority.
Since October 2013, 20 miners have lost their lives in metal and nonmetal mining accidents, including six supervisors. MSHA held a summit on May 5 to inform the mining industry about the causes of these accidents and shared best practices needed to prevent them. Just last week, more than 250 representatives from the metal and nonmetal mining industry participated in a conference call with MSHA officials to continue the discussion about mine fatalities and the role that safety trainers can play in accident prevention.
"MSHA is using all of its tools -- education and outreach, training and enforcement -- to prevent these accidents," said Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "But it will also take the efforts of those outside the agency -- operators, miners and trainers -- to turn this troubling trend around."