February 1, 2007 The Pump Handle 1Comment

Congressman George Miller (D-CA), Chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee says the Secretary of Labor has some explaining to do.  Miller asserts that essential provisions of the MINER Act,* signed into law in June 2006 under the watchful and tear-filled eyes of Sago families, have not been implemented promptly or evenly. 

In his letter to Sec. Elaine Chao, the committee chairman referred to missed statutory deadlines and the real-life consequences for coal miners.

“By this time, all underground coal miners were to have available to them a specific number…of reliable self-contained self-rescuers to enable them to reach safety in an emergency, but they do not.  

By this time, all underground coal miners should be receiving advanced training in SCSR use during simulated mine evacuations, but they are not.”

Is this a sign that the House Education and Labor Committee’s new leadership is embracing its oversight responsibility?  Mr. Miller’s letter suggests just that:

“the Committee is going to take a thorough look at mine safety and health in this country, including the need for additional policies, regulations or legislation.” 

Oversight of MSHA?  Bring it on…please.   I, for one, am eager to see congressional oversight motivated by genuine respect and concern for the lives and health of workers, with inquiries extending beyond the coals fields, to petrochemical plants (hint: BP), slaughterhouses (hint: Smithfield), construction sites (hint: Fabi), factories using butter-flavorings like diacetyl, and wherever else the promise of safe workplaces remains unfulfilled.

*Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act of 2006 (MINER Act)

One thought on “Congressional Oversight: Bring it On…Please!

  1. Out of control MSHA inspectors,
    recently open pit mines and other companies have fallen under attach by out of control inspectors who add thier own twist to the rules already in place,the mine that I work at is constantly striving to make a safe work place for us but when MSHA appears they are not happy until they can find something to fine us for,I’ve personally wittnessed them twisting thier definition of the rules to allow a sitation,when we were following the rule book to the letter,Who is going to control this ? more companies are closing because they can not afford the fines that are not justified,I’ve worked in the constructon trades for 17 years and although safe,the mines are far safer than the trades,because of the efforts of management to follow the rules in place.

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