The U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) will hold its first “Stand Down to Save Lives” on May 17 as part of a national campaign to encourage the nation’s mining community to take steps to prevent injuries and illnesses and stop an alarming rise in the number of miners killed on the job in 2023.
So far this year, 18 miners have suffered fatal workplace injuries at U.S. mines, six more than at this same point in time last year. These fatal incidents have involved vehicle collisions, electrocutions, falls from elevated surfaces, equipment rollovers and drowning.
As part of the event, MSHA is calling on the industry to increase its focus on training, workplace examinations and other safety and health requirements designed to protect miners. The agency encourages the entire mining community – miners, operators and unions – to set aside time during the week of May 15 through 19 to stress the importance of safety and health in and around U.S. mines. On May 17, MSHA leadership will be visiting mines in Maryland and Virginia to stress the importance of safety in the workplace.
Federal law holds mine owners and operators responsible for proper training, adequate personal protective equipment and safe operation of equipment and machinery.
The event follows an April 14 open letter from Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health Chris Williamson to the mining community in which he urged everyone to work together and stay vigilant to prevent accidents and fatalities.
“The Mine Safety and Health Administration’s inaugural ‘Stand Down to Save Lives’ continues our education and outreach efforts to reduce fatalities, serious injuries and illnesses in the mining industry,” said Williamson. “Miners are safer and healthier when the entire mining community works together, and we encourage everyone to dedicate time and resources to focus on protecting the nation’s miners.”
As part of the campaign, MSHA has established a Stand Down to Save Lives webpage with resources for the mining community, including a toolkit for participants to use during the week’s events. With best safety and health practices in mind, the agency asks mine operators and miners to focus on the following:
- Owners and operators: How can you improve safety and health programs, maintenance of equipment, and hazard reporting to make them more effective?
- Supervisors and managers: How can you improve training and workplace examinations? Have you addressed any concerns raised prior to your shift?
- Miners: Do you have properly fitted personal protective equipment and are you fully trained on any equipment you are operating?
Another resource to assist miners is MSHA’s Miner Safety & Health app, which provides timely information directly to miners and others in the mining community. The app allows users to review and understand miners’ rights and responsibilities, search and use best safety and health practices, and receive notifications of mining accidents and how to prevent them.
The free app is available in English and Spanish for Android or iPhone or by searching at “Miner Safety & Health” at app stores.