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MSHA News Release No. 96-007
Mine Safety and Health Administration
Contact: Amy Louviere
Phone: (703) 235-1452

May 22, 1996

MSHA, Consol Inc. Develop Agreement to Improve Mine Safety Among Contractors

The Labor Department's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) today announced a cooperative mine safety agreement with CONSOL Inc. of Pittsburgh, Penn., to promote safe operations among mine contractors. MSHA and CONSOL have been working on developing this agreement for more than a year.

The "Service and Construction Contractor Safety Improvement Program" has been adopted by CONSOL to create powerful incentives for contractors to create and maintain a safety culture at their respective work sites. CONSOL will implement the program at 26 mining complexes in Kentucky, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.

"This agreement with CONSOL represents a major step in the coal industry and should result in an improved safety environment for contractors in the industry," said J. Davitt McAteer, assistant labor secretary for mine safety and health. "It offers what we expect to be a powerful means of further reducing accidents involving contractor employees."

Under the partnership agreement, CONSOL will consider in its selection of construction and service contractors the contractors' ability to carry out their operations consistent with the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977. CONSOL will require prospective contractors to submit the following:

"CONSOL has committed itself to work only with service and construction contractors that can demonstrate a responsible attitude toward miners' safety and health," said McAteer.

Under the agreement, if a contractor is awarded a multi-year contract, CONSOL will conduct semi-annual audits to assess their safety performance. The audit will include the collection, maintenance and evaluation of the contractor's compliance and civil penalty payment history at the mine; the review of accidents and injuries using available workers' compensation records; MSHA data and accident reports; the review and analysis of training programs related to that mine, and any observations made of the areas of the mine subject to the contractor's control.

MSHA will assist CONSOL in this program by providing data such as detailed violation history reports for prospective contractors, accident and injury data, civil penalty information, and information relating to citations issued to any construction or service contractors.

MSHA also will review training programs developed by CONSOL, its subsidiaries and their construction and service contractors and will make available resources through the National Mine Health and Safety Academy to assist in the development of such training programs.

In 1994, the number of contractor employees reported in mining reached more than 61,000. Sixteen percent of all miners were recorded as independent contractor employees. Employees of independent contractors have a higher rate of fatal injuries than the direct employees of the mine operator. (Preliminary data for 1995 show little change in these figures.)

"The result of this partnership is a 'win-win' agreement," said McAteer, "...for CONSOL, for MSHA, for the contractors who gain from CONSOL's insistence on an effective safety and health program, and -- most of all -- for the miners."