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Celebrating 40 Years of Mine Safety and Health

The Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969
Public Law 91-173
91st Congress, S. 2917
December 30, 1969

On March 23, 2010 MSHA commemorated the 40th anniversary of the enactment of the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969, known as the Coal Mine Act. This law profoundly changed mine safety and health in the United States.

The Coal Mine Act was born out of a terrible tragedy that took place on November 20, 1968 at Consolidation Coal's No. 9 mine in Farmington, WV. That tragedy, which took the lives of 78 miners,

The Coal Mine Act instituted the strongest and most comprehensive occupational safety and health protections that had ever been enacted in the U.S.

Throughout the years, mine safety and health have steadily improved in the United States. There are fewer fatalities, fewer injuries, fewer cases of occupational illness in the mines in this country today than there were in 1969. There has been steady, real, measurable progress.

We at MSHA celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Coal Mine Act - but we also take this anniversary as a call to do better, do more, to fulfill the promises made in the Act.

Useful Links

Explosion at Consol #9 Mine in Farmington, WV - 1968
  • A Letter from President Obama

  • Message from the Secretary

  • Message from the Assistant Secretary

  • From the Desk of the Assistant Secretary

  • Statement by Senator Robert C. Byrd

  • Statement by Senator Tom Harkin

  • Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969

  • The Act
  • Legislative History

  • Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977, as amended by the MINER Act of 2006

  • Top Technological Advances Since 1969

  • Commemorating 40 Years of Healthier and Safer Mining (Powerpoint®/PDF)

  • Powerpoint® Version
  • PDF Version

  • "An Act of Necessity" (Video)

  • Charts

  • Accidents, Injuries,Fatalities Since 1969
  • Percent of Miners with CWP by Tenure in Mining, 1970-2006
  • Coal Mining Fatalities 1900 - 2009

  • Retrospect: We've Come a Long Way

    PDF of 1976 article from MESA Magazine discussing advances in mine safety and health

  • Escape from Farmington No. 9 an Oral History - Video Clip Courtesy of NIOSH

    On November 20, 1968, a massive explosion rocked the underground workings of Mountaineer Coal Co.'s Farmington No. 9 Mine in West Virginia. Of the 99 miners who were working in the mine at the time of the explosion, only 21 survived and escaped the mine. This group included eight who were rescued from the Mahan's Run air shaft. Nearly 40 years after the event, researchers from the NIOSH Pittsburgh Research Laboratory conducted oral history interviews with two of the eight survivors rescued from the shaft.

  • Celebrating 40 Years of Landmark Mine Health and Safety Legislation (The ceremony itself)

    Nearly 250 people gathered in the Labor Department's Great Hall on Tuesday, March 23, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act. This legislation was born out of a terrible disaster that took place on Nov. 20, 1968, at Consolidation Coal's No. 9 mine in Farmington, West Va. taking the lives of 78 miners. Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health and master of ceremonies, characterized the event as a cautious celebration and solemn remembrance. "Out of tragedy, a strong law was born," said Main."We celebrate the law, we rejoice in the results and we mourn those who died to make it possible."(more... )

  • Watch the Web Cast
  • View the transcript
  • View the Slideshow
  • Some or all of the files available on this page are PDF. For more information on PDF, PDF readers and accessibility issues, please use this link.