Congressman George Miller (D-CA), Chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee says the Secretary of Labor has some explaining to do.Â Miller asserts that essential provisions of the MINERÂ Act,*Â signed into law in June 2006 under the watchful and tear-filled eyes of Sago families, have not been implemented promptly or evenly.Â
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 numberâ¦of reliable self-contained self-rescuers to enable them to reach safety in an emergency, but they do not.Â Â
By this time, all underground coal miners should be receiving advanced training in SCSR use during simulated mine evacuations, but they are not.â
Is this a sign that the House Education and Labor Committeeâs new leadership is embracing its oversight responsibility?Â Mr. Millerâs letter suggests just that:
âthe 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.âÂ
Oversight of MSHA?Â Bring it on…please.Â Â I, for one, am eager to seeÂ congressional oversightÂ motivated byÂ genuine respect and concern for the lives and health of workers, withÂ inquiriesÂ extending beyond the coals fields, to petrochemical plants (hint:Â BP), slaughterhouses (hint:Â Smithfield), construction sites (hint:Â Fabi),Â factoriesÂ using butter-flavorings like diacetyl, andÂ wherever else theÂ promise of safeÂ workplaces remains unfulfilled.
*Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act of 2006 (MINER Act)