Coal Tattoo

UMWA concerned about voluntary MSHA program

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The United Mine Workers of America just issued a statement about the latest U.S. coal-mining death that occurred on Monday in Alabama, saying:

The entire UMWA family is mourning the loss of our brother miner, Marius Shepherd, 33, a member of UMWA Local Union 2133, who was killed at the Seneca Coal Resources Oak Grove mine in Hueytown, Ala., on Monday. Our hearts and prayers go out to his family and we stand ready to assist them at this terrible time. 

Brother Shepherd died as a result of injuries sustained after leaping from a runaway locomotive underground. Our safety representatives have been on the site since immediately after the incident and are participating in the investigation along with the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration. 

UMWA President Cecil Roberts went on to say:

This is the ninth fatality in U.S. coal mines this year, one more than all of last year. All stakeholders in the mining industry – employers, government safety agencies, and the workers – need to take steps to stop this deadly trend.

And, remarking on the latest move by the Trump administration’s MSHA (see here and here), Roberts said:

I note that the Mine Safety and Health Administration has instituted a ‘compliance assistance’ program to address this. The UMWA is not and never has been in favor of so-called ‘compliance assistance’ programs, and this one is no different. MSHA is giving the operators leeway to select who can participate in this program and who cannot. To be effective, MSHA’s program must be training everyone receives. And, despite our 127-year history of dealing with mine safety issues and developing solutions to those issues, MSHA failed to reach out to us at all with respect to developing this program. 

Robert also said:

For our part, the UMWA is preparing to undertake a series of meetings, site visits, and mine inspections at the mines where we represent the workers. This outreach is to bring awareness of these recent accidents and their causes, to ensure training is adequate at the mine, and to give and receive feedback as to how we can prevent any more of these accidents in the future.