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MSHA News Release No. 98-0205
Mine Safety and Health Administration
Contact: Rodney Brown
Phone: (703) 235-1452

Friday, February 13, 1998

Grace Period Toll-Free Hotline Available Until April 17
MSHA Extends Grace Period for Mining-Related Illness Reporting

The Labor Department's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) today announced it has extended the "grace period" during which mine operators can report occupational illness cases to the agency without the risk of penalty. The present grace period was scheduled to end on Feb. 13, but has now been extended until April 17, 1998 because of a continuing request from both industry and labor.

"We have received more than 1,300 reports of occupational illnesses during the grace period that will be extremely valuable in helping us determine the nature and scope of mining-related illnesses in the industry," said Davitt McAteer, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "This extension of the grace period will allow us to receive even more of this important information."

MSHA began the grace period on Oct. 15, 1997 and extended it until Feb. 13, 1998, to allow mine operators additional time to review their records and verify that they have reported all cases of occupational illness that have occurred in the last five years. To date, MSHA has received reports of black lung, asbestosis, silicosis, chemical exposures, dermatitis and hearing loss. The new extension announced today gives mine operators more time to report previously un-reported illness cases to MSHA. The agency will take no enforcement action for late filing of reports of illnesses if the reports are filed during the grace period.

Mine operators, including independent contractors, are required by law to send a report to MSHA within 10 days after they are notified or otherwise learn that a miner has an illness that may have resulted from working at a mining operation, or for which an award of compensation has been made.

Miners and operators who want to find out if an illness has been reported, or to leave a message, comment or anything else they would like to tell MSHA, may call toll free at 1-888-249-8223 on MSHA's "Grace Period" Hotline. This toll free line will be available for use until April 17.

After the grace period ends on April 17, citations issued for failure to report occupational illnesses will be subject to review for consideration of a higher penalty than normally levied for such violations.

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