This month, MSHA launched a Training Assistance Initiative to address causes and trends in recent coal fatalities.
“Of the eight coal mining fatalities so far in 2017, seven involved miners with one year or less experience at the mine, and six involved miners with one year or less experience on the job,” said Patricia W. Silvey, deputy assistant secretary of labor. “We at MSHA will be working closely with mine operators and miners to eliminate these fatalities.”
Staff from the agency’s division of Coal Mine Safety and Health and training specialists from Educational Field and Small Mine Services will conduct these visits to coal mines. The initiative runs through Sept. 30, 2017. Among their objectives are the following:
– Review the approved training plan posted at the mine to ensure that all information is up to date, and the most recently approved plan is posted.
– Talk to and observe work practices of miners with one year or less experience at the mine to evaluate the effectiveness of the mine operator’s new miner and experienced miner training program.
– Talk to and observe work practices of miners with one year or less experience performing their current job to evaluate the effectiveness of the mine operator’s task training program.
Required Training for New Miners
Part 46 of the Code of Federal Regulations offers guidelines for training new miners, giving companies the foundation they need to organize effective learning opportunities designed to save lives. Part 46 includes a dozen subsections, none more important than the first which defines the “competent” miner. This designation comes from the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act, passed in 1977, which requires mining companies to employ only “competent staff” qualified under state and federal laws. How do new miners reach this skill level?
Part 46 dictates the all-new miner training courses start off with an introduction to the mine. New hires should tour the worksite with managers to gain an understanding of overarching operational aspects, including a description of all mining techniques in use. Next, trainees must review general workplace health and safety resources, as well as emergency protocols. Part 46 also requires employers to make new miners aware of the statutory protections included in the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act. Lastly, mining companies must provide employees with clear hazard reporting procedures. New employees should receive all of this instruction prior to starting work. Additionally, mining companies must provide first aid training within 60 days of the hire date and offer updated hourly instructional totals within 90 days.
Part 46 includes separate guidelines for experienced new miners, or professionals who have worked in the industry before but have switched employers. It also features step-by-step implementation strategies to ensure 100 percent compliance.
These training guidelines described in Part 46 of the COFR can help mining organizations develop effective instructional programs that keep miners safe as they navigate dangerous conditions.