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U.S. Labor Department proposes new mine safety rules

On June 7, the U.S. Department of Labor proposed new rules that would improve on-the-job safety for miners in New Jersey and across the country. The rules would require better workplace inspections and documentation by mining companies.

Between January 2010 and mid-December 2015, there were 122 deaths reported in the mining industry. According to the Labor Department, more than 60 percent of those fatalities were linked to violations of safety standards known as "Rules to Live By." To address the issue, the agency proposed a rule that requires mining companies to inspect the work site prior to commencing work in a location and notify workers of any safety issues that could endanger their health. Further, the inspector must sign and date an examination record that lists the locations that were inspected, their conditions and any corrective actions taken. Companies will have to make such records available to the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration and miner representatives.

Under current regulations, mining companies may conduct a workplace inspection at any time during a shift. However, there are no rules specifying the type of information that inspectors must record or requiring that miners be notified of workplace dangers prior to entering the work site. The MSHA believes the new rules will help identify potential mining hazards before workplace injuries or fatalities occur.

Miners are susceptible to many workplace injuries, including back injuries, crush injuries and lung conditions. They may be eligible to file workers' compensation claims that could result in benefits such as medical care and partial wage replacement. An attorney who has experience with these matters can often guid a worker through the process.

Source: The Hill, "Labor Department proposes new rules for mine safety," Lydia Wheeler, June 7, 2016

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