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Joe Main asking, Are You Prepared?

There is no such thing as "too prepared."

The history of mine emergencies has taught us that we can never be too prepared to respond to these life threatening events. We have also learned that even with the development of modern rescue equipment and techniques, gaps still remain in our capabilities that could hamper or harm a successful mine rescue effort. These shortcomings have been exposed during mine rescues over the past few years. In addition, new technologies such as refuge alternatives are changing the planning and execution of mine rescue efforts.

We - the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), mining industry, state agencies, mine rescue teams - must assess the resources, equipment, training and preparedness of all to identify gaps in mine emergency response preparedness and work collectively to bolster mine emergency preparedness and response capacity.

George Fesak, Director, PEIR MSHA is launching an initiative to improve mine emergency preparedness and response capabilities in MSHA and to encourage improvement in the mining industry. The agency would like to open a productive dialogue among MSHA and stakeholders - industry, labor, state agencies and mine rescue organizations - on the challenges of improving overall mine emergency preparedness and response. We all must work together to ensure that the government, mining industry and rescue teams are fully prepared to respond to mine emergencies.

Dialogue among MSHA and Industry Stakeholders The first step in opening a dialogue among MSHA and industry stakeholders was a working meeting held at the Mine Health and Safety Academy in Beckley, WV, on May 11, 2010. At this meeting, MSHA discussed gaps identified in its mine rescue capabilities, reviewed its capabilities, shared its plans for agency improvements, and identified some issues surrounding stakeholder preparedness and response. Representatives from mining companies shared how they have already improved their capabilities, and attendees explored how other stakeholders might follow suit. MSHA's PowerPoint from that meeting is available in the resources section below. We will also be adding other materials, as they become available, that could be useful in helping operators, emergency responders, and other industry stakeholders to examine mine emergency preparedness and rescue capabilities at their locations.

As a follow-on to this working meeting, MSHA will be holding regional focus groups around the country with stakeholders, including mine rescue team leaders, to get their ideas. The first focus group will be held during the Joseph A. Holmes Safety Association Meeting in Virginia Beach, VA on June 10. Other focus group meetings will be announced on this web page.

In addition, MSHA is soliciting suggestions from mining industry stakeholders on best practices in mine emergency response and preparedness; issues and concerns that the Agency may not have addressed; suggestions for improvement of mine emergency preparedness and response; and suggestions on how best to communicate about preparedness and response to miners, including slogan ideas for an outreach campaign we will be initiating. Click here to submit your suggestions. Your e-mail will be routed to the appropriate office and someone will respond.

We must find ways to improve our mine emergency preparedness and response capabilities so that we can improve mine safety and health in the United States. MSHA looks forward to your help to make sure that everyone can answer, "Yes. We are prepared."

Stakeholder Meeting Materials

Useful Reference Information