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MSHA leader announces stand-down to reverse deadly trend

Christopher Williamson
Photo: US Department of Labor

Arlington, VA — Prompted by an “alarming trend” of recent miner deaths, Mine Safety and Health Administration head Chris Williamson is calling on the industry to strengthen safety efforts.

In an April 14 letter to mining stakeholders, Williamson writes that MSHA has recorded 16 miner deaths so far this year – more than half of the 29 observed by the agency all of last year.

In an effort to raise awareness and prevent additional deaths in the industry, MSHA will observe an inaugural “Stand Down to Save Lives” day on May 17. The agency will provide an online toolkit and resources, the letter states.

“We encourage everyone in the mining community to join us in setting aside a time during this week to give additional focus to the safety and health of our nation’s miners,” Williamson writes.

The fatal mining incidents this year have involved vehicle collisions, electrocutions, falls from elevated surfaces, equipment rollovers and drowning. Williamson adds that MSHA must work together with miners, operators and labor unions to “reverse” the trend.

Implementing effective safety and health programs with regular workplace examinations and training can help miners “internalize the importance of safety and health practices,” the letter states.

“I know that the entire community finds the troubling number of fatalities so far this year unacceptable. Reversing it will require the efforts of everyone in the mining community. MSHA knows that we cannot do this alone, and I am confident that we can count on you to continue to work with us to achieve significant improvement in miners’ safety and health. The nation’s miners, their families and mining communities deserve no less.”

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