US industry feds in hiring mode

EMPLOYMENT growth has emerged from the regulatory corner of the US coal mining industry with numerous recent announcements dotting the classifieds. International Longwall News spoke with those posting the “help wanted” signs.

Donna Schmidt


The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recently said it expects to hire approximately 35 senior-level researchers to work at both its Pittsburgh Research Laboratory (PRL) and Spokane Research Laboratory (SRL). According to NIOSH’s Gerald Finfinger, the location of the workers will be based on the specific need and no concrete number of positions have been inked for each laboratory.

“We’re very flexible,” he said, adding that approximately 30% of the workforce “could walk out the door today [and retire]”. The majority of positions are in chemistry, physics and engineering (mining, chemical, mechanical, electrical and biomechanical), and at this time are only for experienced candidates (an entry-level push is anticipated at a later time).

The coal boom has certainly created a priority for coal-related researchers at NIOSH, he said, as he confirmed the focus would be on hiring of professionals. No matter the mining type, however, working in research “is a very rewarding career. I’d encourage everyone at some point in their career to pass through here.”

The hiring period is open for the professionals, whom the agency confirmed should have an advanced degree, research experience and knowledge of the industry. For international applicants, a Master’s level degree or higher is required.

“We assume [the hiring period] will take some time and continue until we get the people we want.”

Finfinger also confirmed that all of the positions will be fellow appointments, or positions with term limits. US citizen candidates are eligible on a case-by-case basis to be considered for permanent positions with the organisation.

The agency, he said, has begun to receive letters of interest but has not yet commenced its interview process.


Pursuant to the signing of the MINER Act and thanks to a 13% increase in the fiscal 2008 budget for the agency, the Mine Safety and Health Administration has continued its search for federal mine inspectors.

The agency released information last week on three recruiting events it is planning during the coming month in three coal-rich states.

After a series of onsite screenings this past weekend in Kentucky, MSHA is now organising another event on March 9-11 to screen applicants at the Oxbow Center in Saint Paul, Virginia for the Norton and Vansant duty stations.

Additionally, duty stations in Barboursville, Harlan and Hazard, Kentucky and Jacksboro, Tennessee are also seeking additional inspectors and a résumé submission deadline of March 16 has been set to mail letters of interest.

For any screening day, the agency confirmed that walk-ins are welcome; however, space availability is limited and a completed résumé and photo identification are encouraged. For the Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee positions, the starting annual salary for successful applicants is approximately $43,000.

“MSHA is interested in hiring professionals who are willing to help our agency keep US mines safe by preventing accidental injuries and fatalities,” said MSHA assistant secretary Richard Stickler.

“We're looking for qualified people who will continue to make safety the number one priority for the mining industry.”

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