ASSE Comments on Latest Mine Reform Bill
ASSE provided comments to House Education and Labor Committee Chair George Miller on the latest version of his Mine Act reform legislation in the US House of Representatives, the Robert C. Byrd Miner Safety and Health Act of 2010 (HR 6495). A House vote is expected in the lame duck session. ASSE noted its concern that Congress is not addressing OSH Act reform, saying that, while the deaths of miners prompted mining reform in 2006 and maybe again this year, the daily loss of nearly 14 workers in other workplaces deserve a similar response.
ASSE’s comments support provisions to provide for NIOSH’s independent investigations of mine accidents, increased MSHA subpoena power with protection for self audits, providing for a close relative to represent an entrapped miner, requiring inspections during all shifts, requiring review of a mine’s pattern status, increased injury/illness reporting, strengthening MSHA’s ability to place a mine in pattern status, giving MSHA authority to revoke a mine plan based on inaccurate information, a GAO study of MSHA mine plan approvals, increased protections from retaliation, requiring MSHA to address coal dust and atmospheric monitoring systems, additional post-accident training, ensuring quality state mine personnel certification, assistance to states, and the surface mine exemption.
ASSE cannot support, without changes, allowing absent MSHA personnel to make post-accident decisions, making all violations presumptively significant and substantial, requiring verbal communication of mine risks between shifts, increases in civil and criminal penalties without holding upper management truly responsible for the mine’s safety culture accountable, requiring refresher training on retaliation by MSHA or independent trainers, and a more stringent definition of “significant and substantial” violation.