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Mining, oil and gas

MSHA concerned about rash of mining deaths

October 8, 2013

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Arlington, VA – In response to three mining deaths in three days, the Mine Safety and Health Administration has called for increased attention to safety.

The fatalities occurred Oct. 4-6. Two victims were in underground coal mines – a longwall maintenance foreman in West Virginia and an Illinois miner whose golf cart overturned. The third fatality took place in a Wyoming surface mine when a bulldozer went over a 150-foot highwall, according to an MSHA press release.

MSHA administrator Joseph A. Main called it a “red flag” that the fatalities occurred over the weekend, when inspections may be less likely. The last time MSHA saw three deaths in three days was Dec. 26-28, 2002 – also a weekend.

The agency said it intends to issue alerts about the incidents and emphasize the need for hazard checks. Despite the federal government shutdown, MSHA is still performing some activities, such as targeted inspections in high-hazard mines, the press release states.

Because regular inspections are not occurring due to the shutdown, the United Mine Workers of America warned violations may go uncorrected, putting miners at risk. “The government’s watchdog isn’t watching,” UMWA President Cecil Roberts said in an Oct. 8 statement.

To report incidents and hazards, miners and mining operators can call (800) 746-1553.