A former assistant secretary of labor shared praise with the mining industry for substantial health and safety improvements achieved over the years. Miners in Minnesota and elsewhere have benefited from the efforts of regulators and mine operators to reduces hazards. In 2016, the coal mining industry had its lowest death rate ever with the loss of only 12 workers.
The Coal Mine Health and Safety Act that arose after a terrible coal mining accident in 1968 that killed 78 workers laid the foundation for the workplace safety improvements. When the legislation became effective, over 300 miners died in accidents that year. The federal government expanded the act to include all mines in 1977.
The Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration has sent inspectors to mines quarterly and encouraged mine operators to develop systems that reduce dangers and exposure to coal dust, which causes black lung disease, a workplace disease that had killed 76,000 workers by 1968.
In 2010, MSHA focused its inspections on mines with chronic violations. The former assistant secretary of labor credited this tactic with greatly reducing hazards and producing the lowest rate of mines deaths in 2016.
A mine worker who has concerns about workplace safety could talk to a lawyer about what to do. A lawyer could explain how to alert the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. If the worker has been injured in an on-the-job accident, then the lawyer could assist with filing a workplace compensation claim. No negligence needs to be shown for a worker to collect these benefits.