A bad mix

DRUG and alcohol tests on victims in several recent U.S. fatal mining accidents have shown up positive, prompting the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) to launch a campaign warning the mining community about the dangers of drug and alcohol use and abuse in the nation's mines.

Angie Tomlinson

"Drug and alcohol use and abuse in the nation's mines are significant problems," MSHA assistant secretary Dave Lauriski said.

"Toxicology reports in several recent fatal mining accidents have shown the presence of drugs or alcohol in the victims' systems.

“In addition, our state counterparts around the country have indicated to us that drug and alcohol use in this nation's mines represents a significant barrier to improved safety performance.”

The campaign has been backed by MSHA and the Kentucky environmental and public protection cabinet.

A joint MSHA-Kentucky Southern Appalachia (Kentucky, West Virginia and Virginia) Summit on Drug Abuse has been planned for early December in Kentucky and will include representatives from the mining industry, labor, public health experts, and federal, state and local government personnel who deal with mining issues.

In addition, senior MSHA safety and health official Ray McKinney will oversee critical issues within the Southern Appalachia region.