DOL orders independent review of MSHA investigation

THE US Department of Labor has requested an independent team of occupational safety experts to examine the US Mine Safety and Health Administration’s internal review of the Upper Big Branch mine explosion in West Virginia.

Donna Schmidt

Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis noted late last week that the expert panel will look at the process and outcomes of the MSHA review, and that the independent assessment is intended to assure transparency and accountability.


Both MSHA’s internal review and the independent analysis of that evaluation will be made public, DOL officials noted.


Solis has chosen National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health director Dr John Howard to head up the independent review panel. Howard will identify a team of experts with relevant experience to make up the team.


“I am confident that MSHA will conduct a thorough and complete review of the actions of the mine operator and its own actions at the Upper Big Branch mine,” Solis said.


“To ensure accountability, I’ve asked for an outside team to review the policy, process and substance of MSHA’s internal review. This independent evaluation will help ensure that we’re doing everything we can to protect the health and safety of America’s miners.”