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DOL/MSHA News Release No. 02-118
Mine Safety and Health Administration
Contact: Rodney Brown
Phone: (703) 235-1452

Released Friday, March 1, 2002

MSHA's "Focus on Safe Work" Promotes Mine Accident Prevention

ARLINGTON, Va.-The Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) is conducting an intensive effort to reach coal miners, gold miners, quarry workers and other mining industry employees nationwide to personally provide information on mining hazards and ways to prevent accidents on the job.

MSHA's "Focus on Safe Work" initiative is sending hundreds of MSHA inspection personnel, engineers, and training specialists out to all coal and metal and nonmetal mining operations to speak with workers and supervisors about fatalities that have occurred this year. MSHA personnel are distributing materials on safe mining, which may also be accessed through MSHA's homepage at www.msha.gov under "Focus on Safe Work."

"We've visited nearly 7,000 mine sites and spoken with nearly 70,000 miners since February 4 of this year," said Dave Lauriski, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "Last year, fatalities dropped after the agency conducted a similar effort, 'Stand Down for Safety,' and we are hopeful that this reminder will help keep this year's increase from becoming a trend. We want every working miner to go home to his family safe and injury-free every day."

During visits to mine sites MSHA personnel are discussing the fatal accidents that have occurred this year and sharing "best practices" to help reduce such serious accidents at work sites. MSHA is focusing discussions on three primary causes of mining accidents-roof falls, electrocutions (due to failure to "lock out and tag out") and powered haulage. MSHA personnel are also customizing talks with miners to reflect on hazards typically encountered at their mine site.

So far this year17 mining fatalities have occurred in the U.S. compared with seven fatalities at the same time during 2001 and 11 fatal accidents during the same period in 2000. A record-low 72 miners were victims of fatal accidents on the job last year at U.S. mining operations.

A radio actuality is available on this press statement at 800-877-9002.