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DOL News Release No. 04-2079-NAT
U.S. Department of Labor
Contact: Eryn Wichter
Phone: (202) 693-4676
Contact: Suzy Bohnert
Phone: (202) 693-9420

Released Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Mine Safety and Health Administration Celebrates
25 Years of Success with Publication on Agency's History


ARLINGTON, Va. - The U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) released a new publication titled "Mine Safety and Health Administration: 25 Years of Success," which celebrates the first 25 years of the agency's existence, chronicling its history and influence on the U.S. mining industry.

"MSHA's story is one of professionalism and commitment to safer and healthier mines beginning with the first days in 1978 to the dramatic rescues at Quecreek," wrote U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao in the publication's introduction. "There are many heroes in the collective experience of MSHA, most of whom quietly dedicate their careers to ensuring a better working environment for miners."

MSHA and its predecessors have a long, honorable history of working to improve safety and health for the miners who helped build this country. As early as 1865, Congress created a federal mining bureau. One hundred years later, safety problems-though vastly improved-were still prevalent in the mining industry. In 1977, Congress passed the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act to establish an agency to oversee mining issues in America. MSHA was created at the U.S. Department of Labor on March 9, 1978, with the mission of reducing injuries, illnesses and fatalities nationwide in the mining industry.

"This past quarter-century represents a revolutionary time in America's mines," said Dave D. Lauriski, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "With rapid advances in technology and stronger health and safety standards, the industry has experienced changes that no one could have imagined. In fact, we now have record low fatalities and injury rates and we plan to continue this momentum and meet the demands of the 21st century. The mining industry's goal is to head toward zero fatalities and injuries.

"Breakthroughs in mine safety and health have yielded a better understanding of how miners actually work, the skills they need, and ways to make their work safer and healthier," Lauriski continued. "This momentum must continue as miners, employers and government join hands in response to the workplace as it is and prepare for the one ahead. I believe this kind of collaboration will be a key catalyst as we move forward with confidence to build a more rewarding workplace for America's miners."

MSHA has had great success thus far in fulfilling its mission to promote and protect the safety and health of America's miners. In 2003, for a third consecutive year, the U.S. mining industry set its best safety record since statistics were first kept in 1910.

To view "25 Years of Success" online, visit MSHA's Web site at www.msha.gov.