These are the highest number of actions ever filed by MSHA and SOL, according to US assistant secretary of labour Joe Main.
Under the Mine Act, miners have the right to refuse to work in unsafe conditions. MSHA has used that law to give miners a stronger voice and send a strong message that the agency backs miners when they are retaliated against for exercising those rights, Main said.
“In April 2014, for example, we filed a temporary reinstatement motion on behalf of a dust collector operator who was suspended and terminated by a California cement company after he filed a hazard complaint,” he said.
“The company agreed to temporary economic reinstatement and ultimately to fully reinstate the miner and pay him his back wages.”
To better protect workers MSHA has implemented strategic enforcement actions under the Mine Act, according to Main.
“We are also using technology to improve compliance with some of the Mine Act’s requirements, including online tools that allow operators or miners to monitor a mine’s compliance history in several key areas,” he said.
“We are seeing positive results from these actions. Compliance by mine operators has improved and the number of chronic violators has significantly dropped. We are getting to troubled mines more quickly and, with the exception of the recent increases in metal and non-metal fatalities, the industry has seen the lowest fatal and injury rates in history.
“As we pause to remember miners who have lost their lives, or suffered injury or illness on the, job we must also look forward and do all that we can to ensure that miners go to work each day and return home safe and healthy at the end of their shifts.”