Labor Department Initiative Aims to Reduce Fatalities Among Less Experienced Coal Miners

A new initiative announced by the U.S. Labor Department’s Mine Safety and Health Administration on Monday seeks to reduce the number of workplace deaths of less experienced coal miners.

On June 12, the agency began informing mine operators of the Training Assistance Initiative’s planned launch, and encouraged them to participate and provide information about miners hired within the previous 12 months, and those in their current job for 12 months or less. With this information, MSHA can better focus its resources on the greatest fatality and injury risks.

“Of the eight coal mining fatalities so far in 2017, seven involved miners with one year or less experience at the mine, and six involved miners with one year or less experience on the job,” said Patricia W. Silvey, deputy assistant secretary of labor. “We at MSHA will be working closely with mine operators and miners to eliminate these fatalities.”

Staff from the agency’s division of Coal Mine Safety and Health and training specialists from Educational Field and Small Mine Services will conduct these visits to coal mines. Among their objectives are the following:

  • Review the approved training plan posted at the mine to ensure that all information is up to date, and the most recently approved plan is posted.
  • Talk to and observe work practices of miners with one year or less experience at the mine to evaluate the effectiveness of the mine operator’s new miner and experienced miner training program.
  • Talk to and observe work practices of miners with one year or less experience performing their current job to evaluate the effectiveness of the mine operator’s task training program.
  • Identify deficiencies and offer suggestions in training.
  • Work with mine operators to improve their training programs.

MSHA personnel may ask operators to allow miners with more experience at the mine to accompany agency personnel during interactions with miners who have less experience.

The initiative runs through Sept. 30, 2017.

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