Union, Agency at Odds as Coal Mine Deaths Increase

Labor News

In this January 13, 2015 file photo, Joe Main, third from left, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health, and Patricia Silvey, center, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Operations with MSHA, speak with workers at the Gibson North mine, in Princeton, Indiana. Deaths in US coal mines this year have surged ahead of last year's, and federal safety officials say the inexperience of those new to a mine could share the blame. But the nation's coal miner's union says the mine safety agency isn't taking the right approach to fixing the problem. Silvey said eight of the coal miners who died this year had less than a year's experience at the mine where they worked. "We found from the stats that category of miners were more prone to have an accident, Silvey said in an interview with The Associated Press before the 10th death occurred at a mine in Pennsylvania on July 25. (AP Photo/Timothy Easley, File)

Reprinted from The San Francisco Chronicle by Dylan Lovan on August 3, 2017.

Deaths in US coal mines this year have surged ahead of last year’s, and federal safety officials say workers who are new to a mine have been especially vulnerable to fatal accidents.

But the nation’s coal miner’s union says the mine safety agency isn’t taking the right approach to fixing the problem.

Ten coal miners have died on the job so far this year, compared to a record low of eight deaths last year.

The US Mine Safety and Health Administration is responding to the uptick in deaths with a summer initiative, sending officials to observe and train miners new to a particular mine on safer working habits. The push comes during a transition for the agency, amid signals from President Donald Trump that he intends to ease the industry’s regulatory burden.

The miner’s union, the United Mine Workers of America, says the agency initiative falls short.  …

SF Chronicle 8/3

About Jeffrey Burman 2850 Articles
Jeff Burman represents assistant editors on the Guild’s Board of Directors. He can be reached at jeffrey.s.burman.57@gmail.com.

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