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DOL News Release No. 01-338
Mine Safety and Health Administration
Contact: Rodney Brown
Phone: (703) 235-1452

Released  Wednesday, October 03, 2001

News Release

MINE SAFETY DIRECTOR PROMOTES HEIGHTENED SAFETY
Mine Deaths Show Short-Term Increase


WASHINGTON --Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health Dave D. Lauriski is asking mines to have their employees take a brief time-out, or "stand down for safety," in the wake of a recent upturn in mine accidents.

"We're asking mine managers and foreman to take a brief time out at the beginning of each work shift to discuss the recent accidents," Lauriski said. We want to reach every miner on every shift in our nation's mines. We've come too far in mine safety already to let this turn into a trend."

Lauriski said he was concerned about the recent upsurge in fatal accidents, with four coal mine fatalities during one 10-day period in August, followed by a major fatal explosion in September. In the past week, two fatalities and a very serious injury occurred in metal and nonmetal mining.

"Our hearts grieve for the families of the miners who have lost their lives," Lauriski said. "We will provide all the technical help we can, and we conduct an investigation of each accident to find out what went wrong. At the same time we're asking each person in the whole mining community to stop, focus on safety and ask what can they can do every day to prevent a tragedy."

MSHA will be mailing out packets of safety information for discussion at mines as well as posting information on the "stand down for safety" page on MSHA's web site at www.msha.gov. Information on each mining fatality is available on the MSHA web site under "Fatality Information."

Until the Brookwood, Ala., explosion, 19 coal miners had died on the job so far this year, compared with 29 at the same time last year. In metal and nonmetal mining, 22 miners have lost their lives so far this year compared with 38 as of this time last year.