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Rules set to improve safety in the mining industry

Maryland miners and their families may be relieved to learn about several new rules being introduced by the Labor Department in an effort to increase mining safety. In fact, with improved workplace examinations, more than half the 122 mining deaths that occurred from 2010 until 2015 could have been prevented, according to a representative of the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

According to the report, the agency's proposed rules would improve the way that inspections at mines are conducted. The mining companies would be required to inspect the workplace prior to allowing their miners to begin working at a location. The improved inspection would have to provide a full description of what locations were examined, the conditions that were discovered and what corrective actions were taken. The companies will then be responsible to warn the miners of any circumstances that could be detrimental to their health or safety.

The agency will also require mining companies to make these records readily available upon its request for a copy or examination of them. Prior to the updated rules, the workplace examinations did not have to take place before workers started their shifts but could occur during the shift at any time. Further, mine operators were not required to warn miners of adverse working conditions, and the reports did not have to include specific information.

Unsafe working conditions can result in workplace injuries, which create hardships for employees who are unable to work and support their families. Besides missing work and losing income because of a work-related injury, many employees will most likely be saddled with medical expenses. However, workers' compensation benefits are available to pay for a portion of injured employees' wages lost because of the injury and for reasonable medical treatment. Many people in these circumstances choose to have an attorney help them file a claim.

Source: The Hill, "Labor Department proposes new rules for mine safety", Lydia Wheeler, June 7, 2016

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