January 22, 2013
Washington, DC--The National Consumers League (NCL) today is commending the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) for releasing a new rule on January 17, to strengthen mine safety measures across the country. The new rule seeks to ensure that mine operators address and monitor the most hazardous safety problems in their mines and reinforces the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s (MSHA) authority to respond to dangerous mining conditions and improve safety and health for miners.
“After the Upper Big Branch Mine tragedy in 2010, when 29 miners lost their lives due to management’s brazen disregard for health and safety, as well as for the law, it is gratifying to have MSHA tighten its reigns on mine operators and hold them accountable,” said Sally Greenberg, Executive Director of NCL. NCL is the nation’s pioneering consumer and worker advocacy group, advocating for improved mine safety since the 1930s.
In 2010, NCL called on MSHA to improve mine safety in order to protect the lives of workers by beefing up safety regulations, assigning higher fines for violators, and expediting processes for forcing mines with safety violations to address the hazards.
The new DOL rule comes in response to several recommendations from a September 2010 report from the department’s Office of Inspector General, which recommended that MSHA re-evaluate pattern of violations (POV) regulations; seek stakeholders input in developing new, transparent POV criteria; and re-evaluate the standard for timely completion of laboratory tests. The new rule better positions the agency to identify operators who blatantly ignore the health and safety of their miners and are unresponsive to other enforcement measures.
“We hope this new rule gives MSHA the authority it needs to regulate rogue operators, better protect miners, and prevent another mine disaster from occuring,” said Greenberg.
About the National Consumers League
The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America's pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.