Improving the work conditions of miners is a life or death priority for many legislators, employers, and miners themselves. The mining industry has come a long way from early days of the industrial revolution’s lethal mining disasters that resulted to the death 3,242 workers. Thanks to the combined efforts of the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) and industry stakeholders, unnecessary deaths and injuries have significantly decreased.
Work is still needed to bring the fatality and injury toll from .0114 per 200,000 hours worked, and 2.73 per 200,000 hours worked to none. Among these efforts were the establishment of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 (Mine Act), the legislation of the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act of 2006 (MINER Act), and the implementation of new safety procedures, the use of new and state-of-the-art mining equipment, and further emphasis on the importance of Part 48 and Part 46 training for miners.
Per MSHA, the Mine Act and the MINER Act requires employers to “take an active, responsible role” when it comes to mine safety and health. Section 105 (c) of the Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 specifically addresses discriminatory practices against miners, would-be miners and their representatives, as well as safety and health concerns at work locations. Basically anyone who’s working at a mine, whether as a temp or full-time worker, is covered by the act.
What are your rights under the act?
Same as the rights of workers in Construction and General Industry, miners’ rights are a laundry list of rules and regulations pertaining to preserving the health and well-being of workers through organized training, the observation of proper workplace safety procedures as well as regular medical evaluations. Based on MSHA’s Guide to Miner’s Rights and Responsibilities, some of these rights include:
- Receiving training for Part 48 and 46;
- Filing a complaint about your employer’s violation of MSHA rules;
- Receiving medical evaluation or the right to be transferred to another location due to health considerations;
- Being paid for lost hours after being withdrawn from a mine for lack of required safety training;
What are your responsibilities?
It has to be a two-way street of course: you have a couple of responsibilities to fulfill as well. As expected, you have to comply with federal and state laws, the MSHA’s rules and regulations and those of your employer. If work conditions are unsafe, make sure to notify your employer and give them a chance to address the hazards before complaining to the MSHA. If you feel that your employer has violated some MSHA regulations, then make sure that you report accordingly and based on facts, not on assumptions. The same goes when it comes to providing any information—in any form (i.e. training record, application, report)—to MSHA.
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