MSHA’s Main speaks at NSSGA convention

By |  March 17, 2015

Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health Joseph A. Main told members at the annual convention of the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association in Baltimore that mining industry improvements in the past five years have laid the foundation for better protections for miners.

“We are seeing significant reductions in chronic violators, improved industry compliance, and successful implementation of standards in metal and nonmetal mining,” he said. Main was quick to add that, while metal and nonmetal mining had historically low fatality and injury rates in 2011, 2012 and FY 2013, increases in metal and nonmetal deaths since October 2013 are a matter of great concern. MSHA is working closely with the industry to reverse this trend.

“The most important measure of our progress is how many miners go home at the end of each shift safe and healthy,” he said. Main noted that 42 miners died in mining accidents in 2014, with 16 deaths at coal mines, the lowest number ever recorded. At the same time, there were 26 deaths at metal and nonmetal mines in 2014, an increase from the previous year and part of a disturbing trend that saw 38 fatalities beginning in October 2013.

MSHA has responded to this spike in fatalities by stepping up enforcement focused on violations commonly associated with mining deaths. It also has intensified its outreach and education, including “walk and talks” with miners and operators and wide dissemination of best practices and other information. The agency’s coal inspectors and educational field personnel are engaged in this effort, as are many industry representatives.

About the Author:

Darren Constantino is an editor of Pit & Quarry magazine. He can be reached at

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