Last week I sent a letter to the mining community asking everyone to join the Mine Safety and Health Administration in focusing on identifying and eliminating safety and health hazards that can cost miners their lives. As we have learned throughout the years, miners are safer and healthier when we all work together.
The mining industry has not had the start to the year that we had all hoped, with 16 miners having already lost their lives in accidents. These accidents have involved vehicle collisions, electrocutions, falls from elevated surfaces, equipment roll-overs, and drowning. The entire mining community — MSHA, miners, operators, and labor unions — must act to reverse these trends. MSHA will continue to use all of our tools, including enhanced enforcement, compliance assistance, and education and outreach activities. We ask that you remain vigilant every day in your work.
Again, miners are safer when we work together. Last year is a good example, as we reduced fatalities by eight from the year before. MSHA believes that by continuing to combine our efforts, we can continue to reduce fatalities and serious injuries and illnesses.
Everyone in the mining industry needs to be on the alert for hazardous conditions. MSHA investigates each fatal accident and publishes information on each fatality on its website. We also share health and safety alerts through the Miner Safety & Health app.
As part of our outreach initiatives to reduce fatalities, serious injuries and illnesses, we are announcing an annual “Stand Down to Save Lives” day on May 17. We encourage everyone in the mining community to set aside a time that week to give additional focus to the safety and health of our nation’s miners.
Please stay tuned for more information about the stand down and how everyone can work with MSHA to focus on reversing the troubling trend of fatalities so far this year. I know that I can count on the entire mining community to ensure that miners’ safety and health is the top priority and concern.
Editor’s note: Read the full letter to the mining community and subscribe to MSHA’s email updates to learn more about the stand down and other important safety and health information.
Chris Williamson is the assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. Follow MSHA on Twitter and Facebook.