The year 2002 was the safest year on record with fatal injuries in the nation’s coal mines in the United States declining to a historic new low. That year 27 miners died in on the job accidents nationwide, the lowest figure on record. Sadly, as we go to press with three weeks left of 2003 there have been 29 fatalities in underground coal mines to date this year. 
    MSHA has sent out a letter to all mine operators. The letter is signed by Dave D. Lauriski, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health and extracts appear below. 
    “With the holiday season upon us, we at MSHA want to be sure that mine operators and miners are fully aware of the potential hazards and dangers that may seriously injure workers on the job. During the holiday season it’s easy for operators, miners, and others to lose focus on the important tasks at hand as we begin to think more about holiday activities and spending precious time with family and friends.
    “Also, during the winter months the safety and health of many miners may be threatened by the hazards associated with the changing weather. Colder temperatures bring hazardous changes to the work environment of underground mines and the freezing and thawing process can have an effect on safety at surface mining operations.
    “During the last three years the U.S. mining industry has achieved dramatic improvements in miners’ health and safety through the efforts of safety conscious mine operators and working miners. We can continue to make such improvement only if we remain diligent, focused, and steadfastly determined to rid the mining industry of the hazards that threaten workers on the job. Let’s begin today with shared determination to keep workplaces safe, keep workers focused and make sure each miner goes home safe and healthy at the end of each shift.”
    Coal Leader echoes the sentiments of MSHA and urges its readers to remember that safety is a value.


Bill Reid


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