NMA Comments on Federal Coal Dust Standard

National Mining Association (NMA) President and CEO Hal Quinn issued the following response to the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s (MSHA) new standards for controlling respirable coal dust in underground coal mines announced by Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez at an event in West Virginia today:

“Today’s announcement represents a lost opportunity to provide better protection for those who need it and more job security for all our coal miners. We are disappointed that MSHA has chosen to ignore scientific evidence and proven solutions to address exposure to coal dust. The incidence of disease, as documented in the x-ray surveillance data compiled by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, has decreased in most regions and where it does exist, it is clustered in isolated geographical areas. Rather than follow the evidence with a focused response, MSHA has unfortunately decided to proceed with a less effective one-size-fits-all nationwide approach.

“MSHA also declined to embrace constructive suggestions and proven solutions to reduce miner’s exposure to respirable coal dust. These include the use of proven personal protection technologies; rotating miners to minimize the duration of exposure to areas of the mine where coal dust is prevalent; and requiring that miners participate in x-ray surveillance programs to encourage prompt medical intervention.

“All of these measures and more have been recommended by NMA and are recognized in other industries to protect workers, yet all were ignored in favor of a standard that experts have concluded cannot be met by existing technologies.”