Small Mines Office Discussed at Zatezalo Confirmation Hearing

Support for a re-launched effort to deliver compliance assistance to small mines was expressed by David Zatezalo, the Trump Administration’s nominee to head the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA).

The comments came in a confirmation hearing held by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP). In the hearing, Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) noted the effectiveness of the small mines office in reducing fatalities and asked Zatezalo if he would “make it a priority that technical and educational assistance be available to small operators.”

In response, Zatezalo said “I certainly will.” Zatezalo also noted that small mines are usually more vulnerable to safety hazards, and that “compliance assistance and reductions of accidents are what MSHA is all about.”

The National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association (NSSGA) advocated for re-establishment of MSHA’s Small Mines Office during its Sept. 27 visit to Capitol Hill. More than 300 industry leaders participated in NSSGA’s Legislative and Policy Forum.

Additionally, Zatezalo said in his opening remarks that, if confirmed as MSHA administrator, he would seek more consistent enforcement, utilization of technologies to boost safety, and “safer mining and health behaviors.” This mention is noteworthy, since the National Safety Council has asserted that nearly 90 percent of all workplace accidents are a function of worker behavior.

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