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Increased Injuries and Fatalities Among Less Experienced Coal Miners Leads to MSHA Compliance Assistance Initiative

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The U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) was formed in 1978 to protect the safety and health of coal miners. Recently, the organization conducted an 18-month study (October 2015-March 2017) revealing that less experienced miners suffer injuries at a higher rate than more veteran miners.

There were two factors that were studied: the amount of time the individual had worked at the mine, and the amount of time the individual had worked in his or her position.

Experience at Mine: Miners with one year or less of experience in their mine suffered 903 injuries, compared to 418 for those with between one and two years of experience at the same mine.

Experience at Job: Miners with one year or less experience working at their current job suffered 603 injuries, compared to 409 for those with between one and two years of experience working at their job. 

In July, MSHA launched the Training Assistance Initiative to address the causes in order to decrease the number of coal fatalities. Starting June 12, 2017, the agency has been communicating with mine operators regarding the initiative, and has encouraged them to participate by providing more data about miners hired within the previous year, especially those in their current job for 12 months or less. MSHA plans to use this information to better focus its resources on the most frequent injury risks. (Please note that all violation, citation, and inspection data for any mine in the nation is listed on the Mine Data Retrieval System:

Agency staff from the Coal Mine Safety and Health Division, in charge of conducting inspections and researching injuries or deaths, along with training specialists from Educational Field and Small Mine Services (EFSMS) will conduct these visits to coal mines. Their goals are listed below.

  • Review the training plan posted at the mine to ensure that all information ins up to date.
  • Observe work practices of miners with 12 months or less experience at the mine to evaluate the effectiveness of the miner-training program.
  • Observe miners with 12 months or less experience performing their current job to evaluate the effectiveness of the task-training program.
  • Identify safety deficiencies and offer suggestions in training.
  • Work with mine operators to improve their training programs.

The initiative ends on September 30, 2017.


Though the initiative ends in September the focus on mining and safety health continues on a daily basis. Mancomm's 30 CFR MSHA Metal/Non-Metal Mining Regulations parts 40-199 is the most accurate mining-regulation resource on the market. Formatted with RegLogic software, and very user friendly, Mancomm's 30 Code of Federal Regulations makes compliance simple.

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