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MSHA News Release No. 98-1214
Mine Safety and Health Administration
Contact: Amy Louviere
Phone: (703) 235-1452

Released Monday, December 14, 1998

Portland Embassy Suites Hotel to be Public Meeting Site

Anticipating a wave of new highway projects that will greatly increase demand for crushed stone, the Labor Department's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) is reaching out to miners at rock quarries and sand and gravel operations to help develop safety training programs.

The fourth of seven public meetings will be held Tuesday, December 15, at the Embassy Suites Hotel, 7900 NE 82nd Ave., Portland, Ore., from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Congress has directed MSHA to develop final training regulations by next Sept. 30.

J. Davitt McAteer, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health, underscored the urgency of providing safety training for these miners.

"With passage of the $217 billion highway construction bill, the demand for crushed stone used in building new roads may increase by about 40 percent," McAteer said. "This means a surge in jobs, many of them going to new, inexperienced miners. These miners deserve an effective safety training program." The highway bill was passed by Congress this year.

The Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 requires each mine operator to have a health and safety program for its miners. Since 1980, however, language in the appropriations bills prohibited MSHA from enforcing miner training in sand, gravel and surface stone operations

"This is a major step forward," said McAteer. "Congress has given us the green light, and we plan to move ahead to create training standards designed for all of these miners. I encourage anyone in these industries -- miners as well as mine operators -- to attend the meetings and give us their thoughts on what should be included in the new regulations."

Approximately 10,000 mines and 125,000 miners nationwide will be affected.