In a letter to industry stakeholders, Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health, warned against safety and health programs that deter the reporting of injuries.
“In March 2014, the Department of Labor Inspector General (IG) released the results of an audit examining Part 50 accident and injury and illness reporting,” Main said. “The audit found that some operators have instituted policies and programs that have the effect of discouraging injury and illness reporting. Specifically, the IG recommended that MSHA “develop and implement policy guidance on operator programs relating to the reporting of work-related injuries or illnesses, addressing retaliation against miners for reporting, and encouraging miner reporting of work-related injuries or illnesses.”
When developing safety and health management programs, mine operators should avoid policies or programs that could deter miners from reporting safety and health violations or concerns, accidents, injuries, or illnesses, Main continued. “Examples would include disciplinary programs or bonus programs that tend to deter or dissuade miners from reporting such matters. Depending on the totality of circumstances, such policies or programs may interfere with the rights of miners under the Mine Act.
“As we all work together to reduce fatalities and lower injury and illness rates in the mining industry, MSHA strongly encourages mine operators to strengthen existing safety and health management programs or adopt new programs that include the core components listed above,” Main concluded. “These actions can have a meaningful impact on reducing mining deaths, injuries, and illnesses and thus improve the safety and health of our nation’s miners.”