The U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration works to prevent mining injuries, illnesses and fatalities, and promote safe and healthful workplaces for all U.S. miners. The agency name and its mission statement make clear that protecting both miners’ safety and health must be a priority.
MSHA said it takes seriously its mandate to conduct inspections; investigate hazard complaints; offer education, training, and compliance assistance; and work together with labor and mine operators to correct safety hazards and prevent accidents.
When a near-miss or accident occurs, those are visible events that easily capture one’s attention and quickly lead to efforts to focus on safety. However, health hazards that can make miners sick are harder to identify, analyze and address. Moreover, some of the worst occupational illnesses – such as coal workers’ pneumoconiosis (black lung disease), silicosis and cancer – develop over time based on miners’ exposure levels and other environmental factors.
Through the Miner Health Matters campaign, MSHA will conduct enforcement and outreach efforts to ensure miners working in potentially dangerous mining environments take proper precautions to limit exposures to silica and other dangerous toxins. And MSHA personnel will continue to directly communicate with miners about their rights and the importance of protecting their health whenever we have the opportunity.