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DOL Media Advisory - 05-475-DAL
U.S. Department of Labor
Contact: Dirk Fillpot
Phone: (202) 693-4676
Contact: Eryn Witcher
Phone: (202) 693-4676


Released Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Mine Safety Groups Recognize 10,000th Professional Miner
Texas Dragline Operator Worked Entire 44-year Career Without a Lost-time Injury


SAN ANTONIO - The U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), in conjunction with the Joseph A. Holmes Safety Association, today named L.C. Richards, Rockdale, Texas, as the 10,000th "Professional Miner." The "Professional Miner" program recognizes a miner's long-time work on the job without experiencing a lost-time accidental injury. Richards, a recent retiree still actively involved in the mining industry, was a dragline operator at Alcoa's Sandow surface coal mine in Rockdale. He was recognized today during MSHA's Annual South Central District Safety and Health Conference in San Antonio.

"Today we celebrate mine safety and health in America as we name the 10,000th 'Professional Miner' -- the 10,000th miner who has demonstrated how to work safely in the mining industry and now pledges to be a role model for others in the future," said John R. Correll, deputy assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "'Professional Miners' like Mr. Richards set an example for others. They are true leaders in the mining industry, showing their fellow miners how to work the right way, the safe way, every shift of every day."

Begun in August 2004, the Professional Miner program recognizes miners who have worked in the mining industry for a certain time without experiencing a lost-time injury on the job. Eligible miners must apply for the "Professional Miner" recognition. Three consecutive years of work in the mining industry without an injury qualifies miners for entry or silver level status; three consecutive years with no injuries and no reportable accidents earns the gold level status; and five or more years with no reportable injuries earns the platinum level status. Both active and retired miners are eligible for the recognition.

Miners who meet the non-injury requirement take a pledge of workplace safety, promising to be role models for other workers. They receive an official certificate, pocket identification card and the official "Professional Miner" logo as a hardhat sticker and a cloth patch."

"As leaders and role models, "Professional Miners" influence the safety and health performance of the American mining industry," continued Correll. "Mr. Richards, who is giving a presentation at this conference, shows us that leadership in promoting good safety and health practices is a lifetime role. I congratulate Mr. Richards on his exemplary record as a "Professional Miner," and commend him for his continuing mine safety and health leadership." MSHA is th

e federal agency charged with administering the safety and health laws that protect working miners in mining operations in the United States. The Joseph A. Holmes Safety Association is a nonprofit organization founded in 1916 to promote health and safety in the mining industry.