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MSHA News Release No. 99-0615
Mine Safety and Health Administration - USDOL
Contact: Amy Louviere
Phone: 703-235-1452

Released Tuesday, June 15, 1999

National "Stay Out -- Stay Alive" Safety Campaign Comes to Belmont, Ohio

In April 1997, an 18-year-old Ohio man spent the night at the bottom of a limestone quarry near Zanesville when his all-terrain vehicle plunged 42 feet down an abandoned mine shaft. Later that year, a 17-year-old youth died from injuries suffered when his ATV tumbled over a highwall at a Letart Falls area gravel pit.

Each year, dozens of children are injured or killed while playing on mine property. To put a stop to these tragedies, the U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) launched "Stay Out -- Stay Alive," a nationwide public awareness campaign aimed at keeping kids away from active and abandoned mine sites.

On Thursday, June 17, at 10 a.m., MSHA and its partners will carry its message to Ohio youngsters at the Barkcamp State Park in Belmont.

"With the arrival of summer, the temptation to swim in a quarry or explore an underground mine shaft can be irresistible," said J. Davitt McAteer, assistant labor secretary for mine safety and health. "Don't do it," he warned. "And parents, don't let your kids near these places. Mine sites make lousy -- and deadly -- playgrounds."

"Stay Out -- Stay Alive" is a cooperative venture of nearly 30 federal, state, and private sector organizations to increase awareness on the hazards of active and abandoned mine sites. During an intensive, two-week period in May, MSHA and its partners rallied together, visiting schools and community groups around the country to discuss the dangers kids might encounter if they enter mine property without proper training, safety equipment, and personnel. As the campaign continues to build steam, it will become a year-round effort.

Active underground mines may harbor undetectable and deadly gases, such as methane and carbon monoxide. Abandoned underground sites often contain decaying timbers, loose rock and tunnels that can collapse at any time. Unsuspecting swimmers who ignore warnings about swimming in rock quarries develop cramps from the icy temperatures, and divers may miscalculate the water's depth. When quarry operations shut down, they often leave behind pieces of mining equipment undetectable from the water's surface, including old machinery and sharp-edged, barbed-wire fencing.

"Let's encourage our kids to be kids, and to create unforgettable memories this summer, but only in a safe, supervised environment," said McAteer.