MSHA’s Stickler Says Agency is Not “Dragging Its Feet”

”This past year has been a busy one for me, MSHA, and also the mining industry as a whole,” said Richard Stickler, assistant secretary of labor for MSHA, yesterday in Chicago at NSC’s Congress & Expo. Stickler shared the stage of with OSHA head Edwin G. Foulke Jr. and NIOSH Director Dr. John Howard for the afternoon’s Occupational Keynote. Stickler said that although some critics have accused MSHA of “dragging its feet,” actually the agency has exceeded all of the implementation dates of the Miner Act.

As a third-generation miner who has worked in the industry for more than 40 years, Stickler said the recent tragic events such as those at the Crandall Canyon Mine in Utah, the investigation of which is ongoing, underscore the imperative of having MSHA. “The need has never been greater.” He said he recently met with family members of the Crandall miners who died and promised that “we will learn from these tragedies.”

Stickler also noted that 3,700 mine operations across the country have achieved 80 million man hours without a single lost-time injury. The achievement has earned those operations the Sentinel of Safety Award

During his turn at the lectern, Howard noted that NIOSH will launch a science blog in November and will publish a new draft of “Asbestos and Other Mineral Fibers” in January 2008. He advocated using “social tools” to spread the news and enable the research that NIOSH and similar organizations are doing. “At NIOSH we’re very keenly aware of the need not only to generate new knowledge in safety and health but to diffuse that knowledge. Social media tools such as podcasts, webinars, Wikipedia, and You Tube are tools for that diffusion. A ‘Wiki-safe’ workplace is the future. We must not be afraid to try these social tools,” he said.”

Foulke commended all safety professionals for the job they continue to do. “We owe it to each man and woman in America to rededicate ourselves at this conference,” he said. “You’re here because you care. You care to make sure that those employees get to go home every night safe and sound from their workplace. That’s one of the best legacies someone can have.” After his presentation, OSHA and MSHA both renewed their two-year alliances with NSC in a signing at the event with NSC President and CEO Alan McMillan.

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