Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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May 29, 2014

Mine safety agency to conduct talks at U.S. mines

ARLINGTON, Va. — Federal regulators are stepping up safety discussions with the nation’s mines following 20 U.S. mining fatalities since October.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration will conduct visits to coal, metal and nonmetal mines to increase awareness of recent fatalities and encourage operators and miners to remain vigilant for unsafe conditions.

The discussion topics will include task training, mine examinations, the causes of fatal mine accidents and the best practices to avoid accidents, the agency said Wednesday in a news release. Inspectors will exercise their enforcement authority on safety violations and continue to look for the types of conditions that led to recent mining deaths. Agency and mining industry officials discussed safety issues May 5 at the agency’s headquarters in Arlington. The administration also held a conference call last week.

“MSHA is using all of its tools — education and outreach, training and enforcement — to prevent these accidents,” said Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. “But it will also take the efforts of those outside the agency — operators, miners and trainers — to turn this troubling trend around.”

MSHA already has been conducting impact inspections nationwide that began in 2010 after the Upper Big Branch mine explosion in West Virginia killed 29 coal miners.

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