One hundred and fourteen years ago today, the worst mining disaster in American history occurred in Monongah, West Virginia. An explosion the morning of Dec. 6, 1907, in Fairmont Coal Co.’s No. 6 and No. 8 mines killed 362 people, including children who accompanied their fathers into the mines.
That’s why we recognize this date as National Miners Day; we remember the lives lost in Monongah and throughout the history of mining in the United States. But just as important, it’s a day we recognize the critical work performed by today’s miners – work that provides important materials we all use in our daily lives – and recommit to improving their safety and health on the job.
During the past year, we’ve seen a spike in mining fatalities, particularly those caused by powered haulage equipment and vehicle rollovers. This is a disturbing trend, with devastating effects for the families who have lost loved ones.
We’re focusing our resources on getting the word out about safety best practices and the importance of training for all miners, whether they’ve been on the job a week or a decade. We held the first national Stand Down for Safety Day in July, and have been visiting mines all over the country to conduct vital training and share safety flyers, stickers and more with lifesaving information. Additionally, we proposed a new rule to address the hazards involving working near or operating surface mobile equipment, which has been involved in an increasing number of injuries and fatalities in recent years.
MSHA also awarded $10.5 million through our state grants program this fall to provide our required safety and health training to thousands of miners and contractors, plus another $1 million in Brookwood-Sago grants to support education and training efforts that will help identify, avoid and prevent unsafe working conditions in the nation’s mines.
At MSHA, we believe miners are our most precious mining resource. And our mission is to make sure every miner comes home safe and healthy at the end of each shift. Join us this National Miners Day in saluting the hard work, sacrifice and dedication of the hundreds of thousands of people who work in America’s 13,000+ mines.