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DOL/MSHA News Release
Mine Safety and Health Administration
Contact: Suzy Bohnert
Phone: (202) 693-9420

Released Monday, December 8, 2003

MSHA Calls Attention to Winter Mining Hazards
Agency Urges Miners to Focus on Dangers During Holiday Season


ARLINGTON, VA - The U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) today called on the mining community to be vigilant about alerting miners and mine operators of workplace hazards attributed to colder weather and holiday distractions.

The mining community is currently involved in a nationwide campaign "Focus on Examinations," to focus attention on safety, particularly conducting thorough pre-shift mine examinations to prevent coal mine ignitions and explosions. MSHA is also alerting miners and operators in the metal and nonmetal industries about freezing and thawing actions that could cause hazardous conditions at their facilities.

"During the joyous holiday season, it's easy for both miners and mine operators to lose focus on work and possibly miss potential hazards in the mining workplace," said Dave D. Lauriski, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "We want to remind everyone in the mining industry to concentrate on their duties and avoid the kinds of hazards and dangers that can bring unwanted tragedy."

MSHA will be sending hazard alerts to every U.S. mine operation this month, reminding operators of potential wintertime hazards at worksites. An audio message from Lauriski that alerts workers to keep their focus on hazards during the holidays will go to radio stations nationwide. During their routine visits to mining operations, agency inspectors will remind workers about winter weather and the hazards it can bring to the workplace.

In November 2003, MSHA coal mine inspectors conducted a second safety sweep of the nation's coal mines to point out potential hazards at worksites. In August, inspectors from MSHA's metal and nonmetal division carried out a similar effort at quarries, gold mines, silver mines and other mining operations nationwide.

"We want everyone in the mining industry to have a wonderful and happy holiday season, and it will be even more enjoyable if we concentrate on sending each and every miner home safely," said Lauriski.