The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has begun a nationwide effort to raise awareness of safety hazards among U.S. miners.
During the "National Miner Safety Awareness Campaign," MSHA personnel will visit more than 1,600 mining operations nationwide over the next couple of weeks to raise awareness of accident causes and to help prevent accidents in the future.
"We want to share information on causes of accidents and how to best to avoid them with the mining community and we want to deliver that message directly to workers and mine operators at the mine sites," said Robert Elam, action MSHA administrator. "Our personnel will tailor information to mine sites in their areas so that miners and mine operators know how the safety advice applies to their own work site."
MSHA engineers, training specialists and enforcement personnel are visiting surface and underground mines in California, Florida, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Texas, West Virginia, Kentucky and Wyoming among other states as part of this initiative.
In addition to the mine visits, agency personnel will make presentations at public seminars, safety conference and labor union meetings around the country.
"Our aim is to prevent accidents by drawing attention to potential safety problems before they cause an injury or a death," said Elam.
Accident remedies and safety tips developed after examination of recent mine accidents are being shared with miners and mine operators in an effort to reduce the frequency of accidents nationwide.
Accident remedies include low-cost engineering solutions to common hazards in the mining workplace that can be quickly put in place by the mine operator to eliminate the hazard which cause past accidents, said MSHA.
Safety tips are the lessons learned from previous accidents which are being shared with miners to improve everyday work practices and avoid hazards.
MSHA is also asking miners and mine operators to contribute additional ideas for accident remedies and safety tips through the agency''s Web site at www.msha.gov. MSHA will display ideas that are contributed on its Web site.
MSHA initiated the "National Miner Safety Awareness Campaign" partly in response to an increase in fatal coal mining accidents last year.
There were 38 coal mining fatalities nationwide last year compared with 34 during calendar year 1999, and a record-low of 29 in 1998, according to MSHA statistics. There were 48 metal and nonmetal deaths in 2000 compared with 55 in 1999 and a record low of 40 in 1994.
As of April 2001, there had been seven coal mining fatalities compared with nine at the same time last year. Metal and nonmetal has recorded 10 fatalities this year compared with 13 at the same time during 2000.
by Virginia Sutcliffe