"The U.S. System for Mine Safety and Health"
Dave D. Lauriski
Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health
Mining Safety Institute of Peru
Sixth International Mining Safety Seminar
April 23, 2002
Thank you for that warm introduction, and gracias, Senor Florez, for inviting me to address this group today.
It is an honor to be among such a distinguished, diverse group of mining professionals. While our backgrounds may differ, we undoubtedly share similar goals on mine safety and health issues within our respective countries.
This week's seminar is not the first opportunity for U.S. and Peruvian mine officials to meet and exchange information. However, this is my first visit to Peru. I look forward to learning more about Peru, its mining industry and its system for promoting miners' safety and health.
I understand that among you are representatives of mining companies that have ties to both Peru and the United States. If so, some of what I have to say may be familiar to certain members of the audience, and I ask for your indulgence. I plan to begin with an overview of our mining industry, describe our mine safety system in the U.S. and then talk about some of our newest mine safety and health initiatives.
I also have planned to address the subject of mine rescue in some detail because I understand that some of you have expressed a special interest in hearing about our mine rescue activities. .Peru's Mining Industry
There's no doubt in my mind that the well-being of miners is a goal we all share. .
I understand that in the past decade, Peru has experienced a major movement into privatization in the mining sector, as well as in other industries. At the same time, I understand that Peru has adopted an active stance with regard to mine safety.
I was interested to hear that you have two groups that promote safety -- The Safety Committee and the Mine Safety Institute. I'm also aware of the new safety law approved last June that gives mining companies here in Peru the tools they need to develop a safety system within their own operation. I am looking forward to learning more about your recent experiences in the field of mining safety and health.
In the United States, we are continually working to identify hazards and provide assistance to managers and miners in addressing these hazards. I understand that you have identified rock falls as the cause of nearly half of all Peruvian mining fatalities, and that you have developed training courses for miners and their supervisors specific to rock fall hazards.
I was also interested to learn that over the past 10 years, Peru's gold production has registered one of the highest growth rates in the world, and is showing no signs of slowing down, with projections of 170 million tons produced over the next six years. I am extremely impressed that, even with the increased production over the past four years, the number of mine fatalities in Peru has dropped almost 75 percent. How many industries can match that record of improvement?
Well done! (Bien hecho).
U.S. Mining Industry
To introduce my remarks on the U.S. mining industry, allow me to mention a few facts about my own background.
I grew up in the western United States, in the State of Utah. Like Peru, Utah is mountainous -- although our highest mountains do not reach the elevations of yours. It has an arid climate, and also like Peru much mineral wealth.
My father and uncles were coal miners. I myself spent more than 30 years in the mining industry. For most of that time I worked as a professional and manager in the field of safety and health.
Ultimately, I became General Manager of a large coal producing firm, Energy West Mining Company. I am proud that under my direction, both as a safety and health manager and as an operations manager, our mines consistently were among the safest and most productive in the United States.
Last year, I was greatly honored when President George W. Bush asked me to become Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health, working under Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. I have now been in this position for approximately a year.
The organization that I direct is responsible for promoting the safety and health of all miners in the United States, that is, about 15,000 mines and 350,000 miners. . The United States is the world's largest producer of coal. Coal provides more than half of our electric power, and we produce more than one billion tons of coal annually. Coal is mined in about half of our 50 States. Our coal industry is extremely productive. About 2,100 U.S. coal mines employ approximately 115,000 coal miners.
Another prominent sector is the mining of aggregates that is, stone, sand and gravel. We have as many people mining stone, sand and gravel as we do mining coal.
In addition, the U.S. mines about 70 mineral commodities in all. These are as varied as gold, silver, copper, iron, salt, potash, phosphate, talc, clay, and gemstones. The great majority of these operations are surface mines, but we do have underground mines producing both metals and nonmetallic minerals. Metal and nonmetal commodities are produced in every one of our 50 States.
The largest proportion of the U.S. mining workforce is employed at medium to large-sized mining operations. At the same time, about two-thirds of the mines in the U.S. are small operations with fewer than 10 employees, many of which only work intermittently. Small mines frequently need extra assistance in safety and health.
Virtually all mines in the U.S. come under the oversight of my organization, the Mine Safety and Health Administration or as we pronounce the acronym, MSHA. That is the case whether the mine is large or small, surface or underground, and regardless of its location within the United States.
We in the United States are very proud of our historic progress in mine safety. Our mining industry is among the safest in the world.
Last year, the numbers of fatalities in the United States declined to a record low of 72. That was 13 fewer deaths than in 2000. We are not satisfied with that, however; more progress is necessary and possible. Only zero fatalities is acceptable.
Nonfatal injuries that caused lost days of work are another important measure of safety performance. Last year, our rate of these injuries was 3.19 for every 200,000 employee-hours worked. That represented a decline from 3.49 in the previous year, a trend in the right direction.
Each year many U.S. mines work all year without a lost-time accident. These include some companies that have mining operations here in Peru. We are working diligently to bring all mines in the U.S. to this level of safety performance.
MSHA - The System
Now, I will turn to the Mine Safety and Health Administration -- our mission, how we are structured, the law we administer, and how the various components of the organization work together.
Our present organization was formed in the U.S. Department of Labor in 1978. However, the U.S. Federal government has been involved in the field of miner safety since 1910. In that year the U.S. Congress created the first Federal agency for miner safety, known as the Bureau of Mines. Since that time, our laws on mining safety and our organization have evolved step by step until we reached our current situation.
Today, our mission is to administer the provisions of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act. This 25-year-old law calls for a balanced approach among enforcement, education and training, and technical support.
The Mine Safety and Health Administration has substantial powers and responsibilities under this law. However, as all of our mines are privately owned, it is important to remember that the control of the mining operation and the ultimate responsibility for the safety and health of the miners always belong to the mine's operator. In addition, our law gives specific rights to miners in the area of safety and health.
Our law creates a framework within which miners, mine operators and the U.S. government can work together as partners. We have other partners as well: our individual States, certain educational institutions, the manufacturers of mining equipment, engineers and consultants, safety and health professionals, and others. When we speak of the U.S. system for promoting miner safety and health, therefore, it means more than the organization I direct -- there is far more to the overall system.
The law that we administer was enacted by the U.S. Congress, which also exercises general oversight. The President administers the law through the Secretary of Labor and the Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health. In addition, to ensure fairness, actions that we take in the Mine Safety and Health Administration are subject to review by the judicial branch of government through the Federal courts.
As I mentioned, our law calls for us to follow a balanced approach that includes enforcement, education and training, and technical assistance. Our law is premised on a hierarchy of control; first, engineering, then environmental control, then administrative control, and finally personal protective devices.
Let us turn first to the subject of enforcement.
Under the Mine Act, MSHA must inspect each surface mine two times a year and each underground mine four times a year.
These inspections are conducted by personnel from the two largest divisions of our organization, the Coal Mine Safety and Health group, responsible for coal mines, and the Metal and Nonmetal Mine Safety and Health group, responsible for all other types of mining.
The agency has these two major divisions because each represents a sector of the mining industry with unique safety and health concerns. Many of the specific health and safety regulations covering coal mines also are unique and separate from the specific rules for metal and nonmetal mining.
Our Coal Mine Safety and Health Group is divided into 11 geographic regions, and the Metal and Nonmetal group has six regions. Each region also has a number of small offices in mining areas throughout the United States.
The majority of our employees are assigned to these small offices. They spend most of their time visiting mines to conduct inspections.
The law gives compliance personnel from MSHA a right to enter any mine at any time, without advance notice, to conduct an inspection. This feature of our mine safety and health law is unique and differs from other industries in the United States.
During an inspection, our personnel determine whether a mine operator is in compliance with health and safety standards. These standards are quite comprehensive: they cover safety concerns such as prevention of rock falls, ventilation, electrical and equipment safety. They also include health standards designed to protect miners from lung disease, hearing impairment, and other health problems.
One of the rights that miners enjoy in the United States is the right to accompany our compliance personnel on these inspections. The miners at each mine can elect anyone they choose to fulfill this role. This is true whether or not miners at the operation belong to any labor organization.
During 2001, MSHA's compliance specialists conducted nearly 21,400 of these mandatory inspections.
Whenever a violation of safety or health standards is found, our law requires that the compliance specialist issue a document known as a citation to the mine operator. The specialist also sets a time within which the mine operator must correct the condition.
In certain situations, MSHA compliance personnel also may order a mine operator to remove the miners from the mine or, more typically, a part of a mine. This may be necessary to protect miners from an immediate danger, or to secure an area after a serious accident has occurred. It can also be necessary when there has been an extreme degree of negligence on the part of the operator or where a hazard has not been corrected in a reasonable time.
Most mine operators want to comply with the law, but some need assistance in understanding what is required, in finding the underlying causes of problems, or in training miners in optimal health and safety practices. Our compliance specialists and others in our organization can assist.
The personnel in our regions have additional responsibilities. For instance, they also investigate accidents, review mine plans, and respond to safety complaints.
We investigate all fatal-injury accidents in the mining industry, and certain other serious incidents. We share our findings on our web site so that everyone in the mining industry can learn from them.
Our regional offices review mine plans. As you know, there is not a detailed set of rules and regulations that could fit every mine, because each mine is different. In the U.S., underground coal mines, for instance, must have plans for control of the mine roof and plans for the ventilation system, among others.
The operator of the mine devises the engineering plans appropriate to the specific mining conditions. Our technical (engineering) specialists review and approve the plans. The mine then must follow the plans. Other types of plans that we review concern control of dust, miner training, and response to emergencies.
Our compliance personnel also respond to complaints. Every miner in the U.S. has the right to contact MSHA and request an inspection at any time a hazard is believed to exist.
The law prohibits any retaliation against miners who request an inspection or who take advantage of their other rights in the area of safety and health. .If there is evidence of retaliation, we can take the miner's complaint before a judge and ask for an order to correct the situation. If the miner has been discharged, the miner may be able to return to the job temporarily while waiting for a complaint of retaliation to be resolved.
Our compliance specialists also represent a highly effective communications network reaching every mine in the U.S. They speak directly with the management of each mine, and also with individual miners, when they visit each mine. They alert the mine operators and the miners to safety and health trends. They help them identify the fundamental causes of any problems and provide information on safe and healthful practices. We are currently training our compliance personnel to be even more effective in this important role.
Another aspect of enforcement is that each violation of the safety and health standards identified results in a monetary penalty.
These penalties may range up to $55,000 U.S. for each violation (S./ 160,600) . Most violations receive smaller penalties. The amounts depend on several criteria, including the size of the business, the seriousness of the violation, and the mine operator's negligence involved in the occurrence. Violations that are not serious and are corrected promptly may receive the lowest penalty, $55 U.S. (S/. 161).
All these penalties are determined by a separate division of the agency, the Office of Assessments.
I have said that actions we take in the Mine Safety and Health Administration are subject to review by the U.S. Federal court system. However, we also have several methods to resolve disagreements before involving the Federal courts. Operators who disagree with an inspector about a violation can talk it over with supervisory compliance personnel before the penalty is determined.
If the disagreement isn't resolved at that level, the operator is entitled to a hearing before a judge who works for a special organization that was created specifically to review issues concerning mine safety and health. This Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission is not a part of our organization; it is independent. If a decision by one of its administrative judges does not resolve the issue, then the case may go before the commissioners who head the organization. Above that level, there is also recourse to the Federal courts.
In those few cases where there is intentional failure to follow the law, there may be criminal penalties. Our organization investigates possible cases and turns over information to the U.S. Department of Justice, but we do not make the decision whether to prosecute. Only the Department of Justice can do that. Criminal prosecutions are not very common, but they do occur.
Again, the only violations subject to criminal prosecution under our mine safety and health law are those in which there is evidence of intentional misconduct. For instance, a number of cases have involved fraud and misrepresentation on the part of those responsible for the provision of safety training.
As you have heard, the enforcement actions taken by MSHA are proportional to the seriousness of a situation. As most mine operators make strong efforts to comply with the regulations, the severest penalties are relatively uncommon, but sometimes they are necessary.
Let us now turn to the rules that mine operators are required to follow. As mentioned, the basic Federal mine safety and health law was enacted by the U.S. Congress. This law provides the framework, but Congress did not determine all the details of the rules to be followed in the mining industry.
Within MSHA, the Office of Standards, Regulations and Variances coordinates the development of safety and health rules and the revision of existing rules when needed. Whenever we create or revise rules for miner safety and health, we involve the public extensively. We encourage mine operators, miners and other members of the public to speak at public hearings to discuss proposed changes. We ask for and consider written comments as well.
We have started sharing the comments we receive on our web site to encourage greater participation. We try to develop rules that can be accepted as necessary and reasonable by everyone.
Recently, for instance, MSHA issued standards concerning diesel exhaust in underground mines, specifically addressing the health hazards of the particulate matter in diesel exhaust. In this case, some members of the mining community challenged the rule in court. However, we are now working with them to resolve their concerns.
We have agreed on some parts of the new rule, made some revisions and clarifications, and conducted cooperative sampling of diesel particulate at more than 30 underground mines. My goal is for all of us, mine management, miners and government, to work together as partners rather than adversaries.
Along with enforcement of regulations, the second area of responsibility that the law gives MSHA is the area of education and training. The Educational Policy and Development Office administers the agency's training programs.
Our mine safety and health law entitles miners to specific safety and health training for their jobs. The operator of each mine is responsible to make sure that miners receive this training. The actual training may be performed by the mine operator, by various educational institutions, or private contractors. In addition, the governments of individual States conduct or arrange for miner training, especially for the employees of small mines. MSHA provides monetary grants to the States for this purpose. This year, these grants total $7.8 million U.S. (approximately S./ 22.8 m).
Our Education and Policy Development organization includes two groups that provide advice and assistance with miner training to mines in the Eastern and Western regions of the U.S.
This organization also manages our National Mine Health and Safety Academy. This Academy is one of the world's largest facilities dedicated solely to reducing accidents and improving health conditions in the mining industry through education and training. In addition, it is only one of seven permanent Federal Academies serving the United States.
It is located in Beckley, in the State of West Virginia in the eastern United States, one of our most important coal mining areas.
We celebrated the 25th anniversary of this facility just last year. More than 400,000 MSHA employees, miners, mine operators and other industry personnel have received training there, in virtually every aspect of safe and healthy mining practices.
Students at the Academy are exposed to disciplines including ground control, mine emergency and mine rescue, ventilation, electrical, machinery, industrial hygiene, computer, health and safety inspection procedures, accident prevention and accident investigations. Students can also receive training in our Mine Simulation Laboratory.
The Laboratory is specially designed and constructed to provide mine emergency training and training in the prevention and control of mine fires.
Four entries and nine crosscuts on the lower level represent a typical operation of a coal mine. The upper level contains a series of drifts or passageways to simulate an underground metal mine.
The facility also contains a 100,000 cubic feet (2832 cubic meters) per minute mine fan and a fireproof room where realistic fire control training can be conducted. Outside the main structure, there are three concrete pads where exercises are conducted in the control of fires involving flammable gases and flammable liquids.
Mine ventilation, basic mine emergency operations and fire protection also are taught in the Laboratory, along with other Academy training courses.
This facility has enabled the Academy to further expand its role as the national center for mine health and safety inspection and investigation training by providing a realistic and practical venue that prepares mine personnel handling a mine emergency, or understanding day-to-day mining issues.
Many foreign delegations have visited the Academy and taken advantage of its resources. Through the years, we've welcomed groups from nations, including Australia, Canada, Mexico, China, Bulgaria, Ukraine and South Africa. .In fact, just this past January a group representing Peru, from COPERSA INGENIERA S.A.C took classes at the Academy on industrial hygiene, ventilation and roof control. I understand this same group is scheduled to return in May for additional training.
The Academy also develops training materials for use by the mining industry. These vary from small cards that list good safety and health practices to comprehensive training programs in DVD format. There are also pamphlets, books and videos. We are continually updating them and currently, we are engaged in translating all of these materials into Spanish for use by the growing number of U.S. miners whose primary language is Spanish.
Our Office of Technical Support provides engineering and technical aid to help solve safety and health problems. This part of the organization also approves equipment and materials for safe mining use. Its personnel assist in mine emergencies and accident investigations.
We maintain technical facilities in the States of Pennsylvania and West Virginia. These facilities employ engineers, chemists, physicists and others who provide expertise to solve safety and health problems in the mines.
The Pittsburgh Safety and Health Technology Center, in Pennsylvania, also operates laboratories for weighing and analyzing respirable silica and coal dust samples and analyzing samples of gases, liquids, and solids to determine if health hazards exist in the mines. .MSHA's compliance personnel and mine operators collect respirable dust samples, which are weighed by robotic equipment. Infrared or x-ray diffusion techniques also are used in the analysis of these samples.
The Center responds to requests for assistance on safety and health problems at mines nationwide, as well as those from foreign countries seeking expertise in a particular field of mine-related work.
Our Approval and Certification Center, in West Virginia, tests and approves certain mining products. These include electrical equipment for use in underground mines with methane.
Technical experts evaluate and test equipment, instruments, and materials for safety. Products evaluated and tested range from extremely small electronic devices to very large mining systems.
Once a product is completely tested and evaluated, a license is issued authorizing a manufacturer to produce and distribute products for use in mines. The MSHA approval issued by the Center is internationally recognized.
Our technical personnel also work with manufacturers to develop new safety protections. Currently, for example, we are working on a method to signal the presence of a person near mobile underground equipment and prevent the equipment from striking the person.
In discussing technical and educational assistance, I also want to mention our Office of Program Evaluation and Information Resources. This is our data-processing group. The group collects, analyzes, and publishes data obtained from mine operators on work-related injuries and illnesses in the mining industry. This group is also responsible for MSHA's automated information systems, data communications networks, data processing equipment, and our site on the World Wide Web. In 2001, MSHA's web site had 55 million hits. It has become a very important resource to our mining industry.
Currently, we also are taking steps to make the information on our web site available in Spanish.
Our web site provides quick access to the text of our mine safety and health law, regulations and policies. It provides up-to-date safety and health statistics, information on safe and healthful practices and alerts on current concerns. Mine operators can electronically file certain forms they are required to submit to MSHA directly through our web site.
If you are not familiar with our web site, I encourage you to visit at www.msha.gov You can also ask us questions or communicate with us through our web site. We'd be glad to hear from you.
In speaking about technical assistance, I understand that many of you are interested in hearing about our resources for mine emergency response.
In the United States, when a serious accident occurs at a mine, mine operators are required to immediately contact the nearest MSHA office.
When a major accident is reported -- such as a fire, explosion or inundation -- the manager in the responsible MSHA region immediately dispatches personnel to the site. MSHA's notification plan goes into effect, whereby the appropriate administrator at MSHA headquarters is notified, followed by the Assistant Secretary of Labor. Other MSHA personnel also are notified.
In an emergency MSHA compliance personnel immediately issue an order to control activity at the mine. The purpose of this order is to ensure the safety of every miner working in a rescue or recovery effort.
With this order in place, the mine operator still has control and responsibility, but must seek approval from MSHA for actions that are to be taken. In the response to an emergency, MSHA consults closely with the mine operator, with any State mining authority, and the representative of the miners.
If needed, mine rescue teams are notified to report to the mine. By law, every underground mine in the U.S. must have access to at least two qualified mine rescue teams. These teams must be within a two-hour drive of that mine. MSHA itself has two Mine Emergency Units assigned to either Coal or Metal and Nonmetal. The Mine Emergency Unit consists of 42 mine inspectors, a trainer, and a supervisor -- all of whom volunteer for this duty.
Mobile Command Centers
Our Mine Emergency Unit maintains two types of mobile offices or "command centers," which can be deployed at any mine where a major emergency occurs.
The first type of command center is a bus-like vehicle, specially equipped as a mobile, temporary on-site headquarters. It contains several types of communications equipment, and a conference area. It is usually staffed and operated by Mine Emergency Unit personnel at the site of the emergency..The other type of mobile command center is a customized office trailer. The trailer is used for long-duration recovery or investigation activities. It contains three separate offices and supplies to support any type of extended field operation. Technical personnel with specialized knowledge also respond to the emergency in order to provide advice and assistance.
MSHA may also send its mobile gas analysis van to an emergency site. Gas samples taken from the mine can be analyzed directly by MSHA personnel using gas chromatographs installed in the van.
We use computer models to interpret the results of gas sampling to determine if a mine fire is still burning or if there is danger of an explosion. Additional mine emergency equipment also is maintained by MSHA for emergency use if needed.
Mine Emergency Equipment
A seismic location system which is truck-mounted and capable of detecting and locating the source of sounds produced by trapped miners. When they pound on the roof, floor or structures, miners may generate signals that can be detected by sensors installed either on the surface or underground. The system's detection range extends to 1,500 feet (456 meters).
A miniature seismic system that is a simplified version of the system I just described. It was designed to be portable and can be installed in difficult situations. It also can be used in building collapses. The miniature seismic system was used to help locate several survivors in the wake of the Mexico City earthquakes in 1985.
We also have a TV probe system that includes of two miniature TV cameras designed to be safe even in explosive atmospheres. The cameras can be focused and adjusted remotely. A truck provides a winch system for lowering the cameras through a shaft or borehole, an electric generator, and consoles for monitoring the picture, which can also be videotaped. The system can be transported by air and can operate at depths up to 1,500 feet (456 meters).
One of our newest pieces of equipment is our MSHA Mine Emergency Robot. The robot is a remotely controlled vehicle designed to minimize the exposure to hazards that mine rescuers face. It can go into areas that would be unsafe or unsecure for persons.
The robot has on-board video cameras and a remotely controlled arm that can grasp and retrieve objects. The robot can use hand-held devices to test for hazardous gases. It includes a thermal imaging device and two-way audio transmission. It has an operating range of approximately 4,000 feet (1216 meters).
Mine Rescue Contests
Training and preparing teams for possible underground emergencies where miners may need to be rescued also is an important function for us. Mine rescue teams in the U.S. frequently compete in regional contests to test their skills. Each year we also hold a national contest. A few years ago, we began holding an international contest in conjunction with our national contest.
I am delighted that in late August, Peru will again participate in a International Mine Rescue Contest in Reno, Nevada. Two years ago, the Doe Run team from Peru competed against teams from Bosnia, Canada, Mexico, Poland, and the Ukraine..This year, international and U.S. teams will compete on the same field. I am looking forward to this contest, and I hope you are as well. And to truly recognize this as an international event, Poland is co-chairing the planning of the contest.
Managerial Emergency Response Development ("MERD") Training
Because managers play a critical role in crisis management during mine emergencies, MSHA created a program called Managerial Emergency Response Development. This program uses emergency scenarios and role-playing exercises to test and sharpen managerial response to emergencies.
The simulations are the heart of the program. They are modeled after emergency situations. This technique of playing different roles in the emergency allows each participant to experience problems, explore solutions and interact with other personalities that they may encounter in a mine emergency.
For more than 20 years, we have conducted annual exercises to practice our crisis management skills, and we have offered similar training to managers in the mining industry.
Now I'd like to say a little more about some current trends and activities.
I have said that we in the United States are proud of our progress in safety and health. In the early 20th Century when the U.S. government first became involved, thousands of lives were lost in our mines every year. The growth in scientific knowledge, new technology, education and a systematic approach to accident prevention have changed that, and our mines are among the safest in the world.
However, we are not satisfied because we know that even more progress is possible. This is evidenced by our progress for the past several years. It clearly shows that our progress has slowed. Clearly, we cannot be complacent.
Accordingly, we have set specific goals for our mining industry:
A reduction in the number of mining fatalities by 15 percent per year;
A reduction in our rate of serious injuries of 50 percent by the end of 2004.
Our mining industry, labor organizations and others have widely agreed that these are worthy and achievable goals.
In my first year of directing MSHA, our organization held dozens of meetings throughout all the mining areas of the U.S. to talk with individuals in all sectors of the mining industry.
We spent thousands of hours talking with management officials, safety and health professionals, labor organizations, miners, and others concerned with the safety and health of miners. We asked them for their advice and ideas on how to achieve these goals. We are now acting on what we heard.
Perhaps the results of our discussion would be interesting to you as well.
We heard several important themes:
We heard that we need to focus our enforcement efforts in areas where we can effect the greatest result and ensure consistency in our enforcement process.
We heard that there is a great desire for more assistance to comply with the mine safety and health law.
We heard that education and training needs to be strengthened still further, that we need new training materials and materials in Spanish. As I mentioned we are already acting on that suggestion.
We heard that members of our mining community want easier access to more safety and health data, and more analysis of the data.
And, we heard that even wider opportunities to participate in creating mine health and safety laws would be helpful.
We are acting in all of these areas. We are doing this in the context of a healthy balance among education and training, compliance assistance, enforcement and technical support, those activities which the our law mandates.
When I was in the mining industry, we used to talk about our "business triangle of success." The three sides of the triangle were production, cost, and the base of the triangle safety and health.
Now in MSHA we also talk about three elements: enforcement, education and training, and technical support. Together, they form our "MSHA triangle of success."
I have already mentioned some of our innovative activities in MSHA, but let me give one other example.
"Focus on Safe Work"
Near the beginning of this year, we observed that fatal injuries for 2002 were higher than during the first weeks of the previous year. In particular we saw many fatal injuries that involved rock falls, electrocutions, and mobile equipment. In response we undertook an initiative titled "Focus on Safe Work.".Our full range of specialists, trainers, and technical support personnel went to more than 10,000 mining operations and talked directly with more than 150,000 miners about recent accidents. They talked to miners and mine operators about the serious accidents that have occurred, they've discussed common factors, and they've discussed ways to prevent similar accidents. They varied their talks with miners to reflect hazards typically encountered at each mine.
We also mailed informational packets to all mines and put specific information to prevent accidents on our web site.
As we conducted this "Focus on Safe Work" initiative, we saw a decline in the number of fatal injuries.
Last year, we saw a similar decline in fatal injuries during another special effort that we undertook.
We believe these are effective components of our overall efforts to improve safety performance in U.S. mines.
"Safety is a Value"
In addition to providing information and assistance, training, and enforcement. We also are emphasizing the need to make safety a value. Values are something that everyone possesses. For instance, most people hold values that include the love of family, respect for others, and reverence for God. Values are always guiding us in the decisions we make throughout our daily life.
To achieve our goals in safety and health, we are working to make safe and healthful practices a value throughout our mining industry. .From the Chief Executive Officers to the miners in each mine, we are encouraging everyone to make safety a value . When safety is a value, then the advice, assistance, training and encouragement are put to use. Safe actions become routine. This is the essential human dimension of safety and health.
We are encouraging everyone in the U.S. mining industry to live according to this value, which will be citical to advance our record of improvements in safety and health.
I hope that I've provided you with some insight about the system administered by the U.S. government to help keep miners safe and healthy. I admire your genuine commitment to improve miner safety and health, and I congratulate you for your efforts. I will be interested to learn from you as this meeting continues and as we all work towards healthier, safer mines in our respective Nations.