MSHA Chief Wants Miners to take a 'Hard Look at Safety'

MSHA Administrator Dave D. Lauriski encourages mine operators to take a moment and remind employees of safe and healthy work practices.

Dave D. Lauriski, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health, recently encouraged mine operators to "stand down for safety" - to take a moment in the work shift to remind employees of safe and healthy work practices - during the Northwest Mining Association's annual conference held in Spokane, Wash.

"I encourage mine operators to take a hard look at safety practices - to talk to their workers about specific hazards on the job," said Lauriski. "Review the safety procedures in place and be sure those procedures are updated and well-understood."

Lauriski used the opportunity afforded by the conference to discuss results from a series of stakeholder meetings the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) conducted around the country in recent months.

"A common theme in our stakeholder meetings was compliance assistance," Lauriski said. "Many mine operators would like MSHA to provide more advice and education on keeping the workforce safe and preventing violations. We must reach and maintain a healthy balance among enforcement, education and training which includes compliance assistance and technical support."

Also emerging from the MSHA stakeholder meetings was an emphasis on training. "To reduce mining accidents, we will have to better prepare miners and supervisors to perform their work tasks safely," Lauriski said.

Lauriski noted that in the coming year, MSHA plans to focus strictly on the most critical regulatory areas for safety and health. MSHA will concentrate on a smaller number of regulatory areas and get them done rather than spreading time and attention over a large number of rulemaking projects. Rulemaking projects for 2002 include standards on high-voltage longwall mining equipment, the use of independent laboratory testing for mine equipment approvals, and asbestos exposure.

"Throughout this entire process, our stakeholders' input will be critical," he said.

edited by Sandy Smith (ssmith@penton.com)

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