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MSHA News Release No. 97-1015
Mine Safety and Health Administration
Contact: Katharine Snyder
Phone: (703) 235-1452
After Hours: (703) 522-4527

Wednesday, October 15, 1997


No Penalty for Late Reports If Filed by Dec. 31

MSHA SETS "GRACE PERIOD" TO REPORT MINING-RELATED ILLNESS CASES


The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) is announcing a "grace period" from today until December 31, 1997, during which mine operators can report to MSHA -- without risk of citation -- occupational illness cases they should have reported during the past five years but did not.

"To prevent miners' job-related illnesses, the mining community needs accurate information," said J. Davitt McAteer, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "Occupational illnesses in mining may be significantly under-reported due to apparent misunderstanding about reporting requirements. We're taking action now to correct past oversights without any penalty for late reporting."

Mine operators, including independent contractors, are required to send a report to MSHA within 10 days after they are notified or otherwise learn that a miner has an illness that may have resulted from work in a mine, or for which an award of compensation has been made. During the grace period, however, MSHA will not impose any penalty for lateness on mine operators and independent contractors who report occupational illnesses that may have gone unreported during the past five years.

For more information, mine operators and miners are advised to call their MSHA District Office. They can also leave a message, comment, or anything else they would like to tell the Agency on MSHA's Toll-Free "Grace Period" Hot Line: 1-888-249-8223.

While the mining industry has made significant progress in reducing health hazards, some miners continue to suffer from occupational illnesses such as black lung disease, silicosis, noise-induced hearing loss, occupational asthma, asbestosis, and musculoskeletal disorders.

MSHA has identified instances of occupational illness where mine operators did not file required reports with MSHA even though state workers' compensation agencies, other state or federal agencies, labor organizations, or occupational medicine clinics had received reports.

After the grace period ends, MSHA will conduct audits and will consider special assessments on citations issued for failing to report cases that were required to be submitted to the Agency.

MSHA's grace period for reporting occupational illnesses is announced in MSHA's Program Information Bulletin No. P97-25, which may be obtained from MSHA's Directorate of Program Evaluation and Information Resources, 4015 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22203, telephone (703) 235-8378, or found on MSHA's World Wide Web site at http://www.msha.gov.

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