Two New Top Positions Created at MSHA for Emergency Response

The Labor Department announced yesterday that two new positions have been created in MSHA's Mine Emergency Operations division, and both will be based at MSHA's Safety and Health Technology Center in Bruceton, Pa. The two posts are the mine emergency operations manager and the emergency rescue and recovery scientific development manager. Both require "considerable technical and scientific expertise" in mine emergency response, the agency said.

"Past experience has demonstrated that a well-run mine emergency operation depends not only on the leadership role taken by MSHA but on the knowledge and support provided by its technical experts," said Richard E. Stickler, assistant secretary of labor for MSHA. "Since Sago, we've learned a great deal about how to improve our operational procedures during a mine disaster. The filling of these two positions will go a long way toward enhancing MSHA's mine emergency response capabilities and will further ensure the safety and health of our nation's miners."

The emergency operations manager will be responsible for planning and directing mine emergency preparedness, serve as the technical authority and logistical expert during all MSHA mine emergency responses. This person will coordinate MSHA's on-site activities, including mine atmospheric analyses and deployment of mine rescue and recovery personnel. (Not long ago, MSHA said it would designate a top official to be the liaison between rescue and recovery personnel and missing miners' families.) The emergency rescue and recovery scientific development manager will be the technical expert on MSHA mine emergency rescue and recovery operations, "overseeing new technological and scientific developments such as respirators, self-contained self-rescuers, robotics, breathable air, rescue/refuge chambers, safe havens, and communications and tracking devices," according to the announcement.

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