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MSHA News Release No. 97-1223
Mine Safety and Health Administration
Contact: Amy Louviere
Phone: (703) 235-1452

Tuesday, December 23, 1997

MSHA Extends "Grace Period" for Reporting Mining-Related Illness Cases

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has announced it has extended the "grace period" during which mine operators can report occupational illness cases -- without risk of penalty -- that may have gone unreported during the past five years.

"MSHA has already received more than 400 reports of occupational illnesses since the grace period began on October 15, and we have received requests from the mining community to extend it," said J. Davitt McAteer, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "We want to make sure mine operators have every opportunity to get their records up to date."

The grace period, originally slated to end December 31, 1997, has been extended until February 13, 1998 to allow mine operators additional time to review their records and verify that they have reported all cases of occupational illness that have occurred since January 1, 1993.

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 extended grace period for reporting occupational illnesses was announced in MSHA's Program Information Bulletin No. P97-35, 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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