Mine safety

US Geological Survey, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

After a federal Court of Appeals rejected an industry-led challenge last month, a new federal rule to reduce coal miners’ exposure to dangerous dust goes into effect Monday.

In 2009, the Mine Safety and Health Administration began a campaign to end black lung disease, which is caused by breathing in large amounts of coal dust. The disease was in decline for decades but has experienced a recent resurgence.

“This disease is far from over,” MSHA Secretary Joe Main said. “Miners have suffered, families have suffered from this disease, and the time has come to fix this problem. And implementation of this rule will help us get there.”

Part of MSHA’s campaign includes federal rules to keep better track of the coal dust to which miners are exposed. Companies now have to take more dust samples, as well as sample for an entire shift. Over the next few months, coal miners working in the jobs with the most dust will have to wear small continuous personal dust monitors.

Coal Miner Killed On Job In Union County

Dec 16, 2014

State officials say a coal miner has died after being struck by a coal-hauling car at an underground mine in western Kentucky.

The Kentucky Division of Mine Safety has identified the miner as 34-year-old Eli Eldridge of Sturgis.

It was just the second mining fatality in the state this year.

Eldridge was hit by a ram car, a long flat motorized car that hauls coal to the feeder. The accident occurred Tuesday at the Patriot Coal Company Highland No. 9 mine near Waverly around 11 a.m. CST.

The first Kentucky fatality occurred Oct. 8 at a surface mine in Bell County.

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A slash to Governor Steve Beshear’s proposal for mine safety in the Kentucky House budget bill passed this month has many safety advocates concerned. They say there might not be enough money to conduct required inspections.

Gov. Beshear has proposed $7.6 million in each of the next two years for the state program that inspects and licenses coal mines. But when the budget bill was passed by the House, Beshear’s budget office noticed the number had been reduced to $5.3 million per year.

The Courier-Journal reports the 15 percent reduction was not discussed during the budget committee meeting or floor session when the bill was passed. In response, Gov. Beshear says his administration is “very concerned about the lack of sufficient funds to ensure safety” for miners, and the House and Senate will work together to ensure the funding is there “to cover critical needs in the agency.”

MSHA Making Progress on Internal Changes

Apr 3, 2013

An audit of the Mine Safety and Health Administration shows it's implemented more than half the 100 internal changes recommended after a 2010 explosion killed 29 West Virginia coal miners.

The Department of Labor's Office of Inspector General says MSHA's efforts to address its own shortcomings began well before an internal review report was released in March of 2012.

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The U.S. Department of Labor has approved new rules it says will improve safety at the nation's most dangerous coal mines by revising the way operators are designated pattern violators.

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said they improve the Mine Safety and Health Administration's ability to hold mine operators accountable for disregarding life saving safety measures. MSHA chief Joe Main says they're long overdue and could prevent 1,800 injuries over ten years.

The changes were proposed after the Upper Big Branch mine exploded in April 2010, killing 29 men.