DOL seeks enforcement, mine safety money in budget

THE US Department of Labor has released its request for billions in discretionary spending under the fiscal 2014 budget, including $5.8 million to bolster US Mine Safety and Health Administration enforcement efforts and $2.5 million to implement recommendations following the Upper Big Branch explosion.

Donna Schmidt

The April 2010 blast that killed 29 workers prompted the internal review of MSHA and led to recommendations requiring the completion of all mandated inspections, the continuation of MSHA’s impact inspection program and work with its ongoing respirable dust emphasis initiative.

“In FY 2014, [Coal Mine Safety and Health] will conduct approximately 33 special dust emphasis inspections,” officials reveal in the report.

“In conjunction with regular inspections, CMSH will review operators’ dust monitoring programs and assure that operators are properly calibrating and maintaining dust sampling units [and] will continue to work with mining equipment manufacturers to identify the most effective engineering control measures and promote their use.”

Ventilation and roof control standards compliance, noise exposure, contested violations backlogs and work on discrimination and whistleblower protections are also part of MSHA’s plan for the new fiscal year.

In an update report the inspector general recently said that MSHA was on track with its work to implement recommendations that came from its internal review.

Acting Secretary of Labor Seth Harris said the DOL’s request was a “critical ingredient” in Barack Obama’s plan to grow the economy “from the middle class out, not from the top down”

As part of its requested earmark, the DOL said it would keep enhancing program effectiveness and improving agency efficiency.