The Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 (Public Law 95-164), commonly known as the Mine Act, is the legislation that currently governs MSHA’s activities. Mining fatalities dropped sharply under the Mine Act.
The Mine Act transferred enforcement responsibilities from the Department of the Interior to the Department of Labor, and named the new agency the Mine Safety and Health Administration. Additionally, the Mine Act established the independent Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission to provide independent review of most of MSHA's enforcement actions.
The Mine Act amended the 1969 Coal Act in a number of significant ways, and consolidated all federal health and safety regulations of the mining industry – both coal and metal/nonmetal – under a single statutory scheme.
Key components of the Mine Act include:
Four annual inspections required at all underground mines
- Two annual inspections required at all surface mines
- Strengthened and expanded rights for miners
- Enhanced protection of miners from retaliation for exercising such rights
- Mandatory miner training provisions established
- Mine rescue teams required for all underground mines