To commemorate the 10th anniversary of the enactment of the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act of 2006, Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Mine Safety and Health Administration Joseph A. Main issued the following statement:
“In 2006, after the Sago, Aracoma and Darby mine tragedies that collectively claimed 19 lives, a bipartisan group in Congress came together to craft the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act of 2006. At that time, the MINER Act was the most significant mine safety legislation enacted in nearly 30 years – representing the first revisions to federal mine safety laws since 1977.
“The MINER Act improved mine safety and emergency response preparedness at our nation’s coal mines by increasing training, upgrading mining standards, improving mine emergency response and requiring enhanced technology underground for post-disaster communications.
“The act required the industry to have a cadre of better trained mine rescue teams ready to rescue coal miners when needed. Miners trapped in a disaster now have chambers in which to take refuge, directional lifelines to guide them out and increased caches of emergency air to keep them alive while emergency response teams put mandated mine emergency plans into action to locate and rescue them. In cases of mine accidents with multiple fatalities, the MINER Act established the role of a family liaison as a communications link to miners’ families while they await word about their loved ones.
“The changes did not stop there. In the past six years, MSHA has further enhanced mine emergency response and mine safety and health, by:
- Developing new, advanced mine rescue communications and tracking systems to improve and streamline communications dramatically between the surface command center and underground mine rescue teams.
- Establishing a new Mine Emergency Operations facility in Kentucky to serve the Midwest.
- Creating the Holmes Mine Rescue Association to support and promote mine rescue in the U.S.
- Expanding the family liaison program to include support in the event of any mining death.
- Upgrading MSHA’s mine emergency mobile command centers and response equipment.
- Adding upgraded skills training for mine rescue teams.
“Since the MINER Act’s passage 10 years ago, the mining industry has seen profound changes. In fact, 2015 marked the safest year in mining history with the fewest number of mining deaths and the lowest fatality and injury rates ever recorded. Our work, however, continues. We remain focused on doing whatever we must to return miners to their loved ones – safe and healthy – after every shift.”