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MSHA News Release No. 98-1217
Mine Safety and Health Administration
Contact: Rodney Brown
Phone: (703) 235-1452

Released Thursday December 17, 1998

MSHA/Marshall University Jointly Offer Degree Program in Mine Inspection

For the first time, persons who receive entry level mine inspection training at the National Mine Health and Safety Academy in Beckley, WV, may apply that training toward an associate degree in mine inspection. The new degree program was made possible by a cooperative effort among the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), the Marshall University Community and Technical College, the Department of Labor's Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training (BAT), and the National Council of Field Labor Locals (NCFLL).

Representatives of each group will gather at the National Mine Health and Safety Academy in Beckley on Friday, December 18, 1998, at 11 a.m. to sign documents implementing the new agreements.

"The new arrangement recognizes the legitimacy of the study of mine safety and health and mine inspection in particular," said Davitt McAteer, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "The art of keeping working miners safe will now be a course of study that can lead to an academic degree."

Prospective students would enter Marshall University's newly-established "occupational development: mine inspection" program and work toward an associate of applied science (A.A.S.) degree. Students must complete three components to earn the degree. The first component consists of 22 credit hours of general education requirements to be satisfied in courses taken at Marshall University, which is located in Huntington, W.Va. Another component requires 30 credit hours of classroom instruction in mine inspection apprenticeship taken at the National Mine Health and Safety Academy (or completion of the entry level mine inspection training). The last part is 13 credit hours of on-the-job training in mine inspection apprenticeship (or completion of the on-the-job training portion of the entry level training).

The cornerstone of the occupational development degree program is the training one receives in a registered apprenticeable occupation. MSHA and the NCFLL cooperated to get formal registration of mine inspection certified as an apprenticeable occupation with BAT. MSHA then negotiated a formal agreement with the Community and Technical College of Marshall University to establish degree requirements.

"This type of partnership between MSHA, the NCFLL, Marshall University and BAT begins the reality of lifelong learning and ensuring safety to the public and high skills for workers," said Anthony Swoope, national director of the Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training.

"All mine inspectors are eligible to apply for this apprenticeship certification," said McAteer. "In addition, anyone who takes course instruction in mine inspection at the Academy will be awarded continuing education units."

Participating in Friday's ceremony, to be held in room C-123 at the Academy, will be: Davitt McAteer; Frank Schwamberger, acting director of Educational Policy and Development for MSHA; Jack Spadaro, superintendent of the Academy; J. Wade Gilley, president of Marshall University; Betty Kyger, provost of the Marshall University Community and Technical College; Hugh Smith and Richard Coon, vice presidents of the NCFLL; Pete Coleman, region III chairman of the NCFLL; Anthony Swoope of the Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training; and Dana Daugherty, deputy director of the Bureau.

Representatives of MSHA and the NCFLL will sign an agreement with the Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training. This agreement establishes the standards of apprenticeship for the occupation of mine inspection. This will allow mine inspectors who successfully complete the entry level mine inspector training program to register and receive an apprentice certification from BAT.

Representatives of MSHA, the NCFLL, and BAT will then sign an agreement with the Marshall University Community and Technical College. This agreement will provide the opportunity for MSHA mine inspectors who receive apprenticeship certification from BAT to receive 43 credit hours toward the associate degree in applied science in occupational development--mine inspection.