MSHA head calls for national mining safety standdown

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration hopes mine operators in West Virginia and elsewhere will join in a national safety stand down Wednesday.

Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health and Mingo County native Chris Williamson announced the stand down as part of an effort to elevate the awareness of workplace safety hazards in mining and to prioritize safety training.

“Last year, as the mining industry experienced a troubling increase in fatal accidents, I asked the mining community to join the Mine Safety and Health Administration in identifying and eliminating safety and health hazards that can cost miners their lives. As part of this effort, MSHA announced our first annual “Stand Down to Save Lives” and invited the mining community to join us in prioritizing miners’ safety and health. This year “Stand Down to Save Lives” will occur on May 22, 2024. We invite everyone to participate,” wrote Williamson in a statement from MSHA.

Last year’s national stand-down came amid a dozen lost lives in the mining industry. That figure is down significantly for this year, but Williamson said he still hoped every operator would participate and continue to raise awareness of safety in the industry.

“In the past year, I have traveled across the country, talking to miners and their representatives, operators, and safety professionals, and everyone I spoke with was troubled by last year’s fatality numbers. In those conversations there was broad agreement that the industry can and must do better. I write now to share that because of the collective efforts of the entire mining community, 12 fewer miners have died in workplace accidents this year compared to May last year. Although this progress is encouraging, even one miner fatality is still one too many,” he writes.

Williamson highlighted a couple of recently issued rules from MSHA, one involving surface mining equipment safety and the other involving silica dust and respiratory issues for underground workers.

“As we have learned throughout the years, we succeed when we work together, and miners are safer and healthier as a result. Together we have made a difference this year and thank you for your efforts. But there is still more work we must do to protect the miners that we care for and appreciate so much.” he said.

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