"The progress we made in 2015 is good news for miners and the mining industry. It is the result of intensive efforts by MSHA and its stakeholders that have led to mine site compliance improvements, a reduction of chronic violators, historic low levels of respirable coal dust and silica, and a record low number of mining deaths," said Assistant Secretary Joseph A. Main.

MSHA Launches Coalfields Compliance Assistance Project

Staffers from the agency's division of Coal Mine Safety and Health and training specialists from Educational Field and Small Mine Services will visit coal mines to review approved training plans and talk with and observe miners with one year or less experience at the mine and miners with one year or less experience performing their current job.

MSHA has launched a compliance assistance initiative in response to increased injuries and deaths among less-experienced coal miners. Data recently compiled between October 2015 and March 2017 by the DOL agency shows that these miners – with less experience both at a mine and at a specific occupation – suffer injuries at a higher rate than more experienced ones.

During the 18-month period, miners with one year or less of experience at a mine suffered 903 injuries compared to 418 for those who had worked at a mine between one and two years. Miners with one year or less of job experience suffered 603 injuries compared to 409 for those with between one and two years job experience.

The Training Assistance Initiative will be offered throughout the nation's coalfields to address the causes and trends in recent coal fatalities. MSHA said it has reached out to mining companies seeking information about miners hired within the previous 12 months and those in their current job for 12 months or less, so the agency can better focus its resources on the biggest fatality and injury risks.

"Of the eight coal mining fatalities so far in 2017, seven involved miners with one year or less experience at the mine and six involved miners with one year or less experience on the job," said Patricia W. Silvey, deputy assistant secretary of labor. "We at MSHA will be working closely with mine operators and miners to eliminate these fatalities."

Staffers from the agency's division of Coal Mine Safety and Health and training specialists from Educational Field and Small Mine Services will visit coal mines. They will review approved training plans, talk with and observe work practices of miners with one year or less experience at the mine and the miners with one year or less experience performing their current job, identify deficiencies and offer suggestions in training, and work with mine operators to improve their training programs.

The initiative runs through Sept. 30, 2017.

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