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DOL News Release [02-604]
Mine Safety and Health Administration
Contact: Rodney Brown
Phone: (202) 693-9425

Released Thursday, October 17, 2002

News Release

MSHA Establishes New Small Mines Division

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has established a new Small Mine Office to address the specialized needs of the nearly 6,500 small mines around the country. MSHA defines small mines as any surface or underground operation with five or fewer employees.

"For the last several years, the fatal incident rate at small mine operations has been more than double the rate for larger mines," said Dave D. Lauriski, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "This new division will enable us to better focus our resources on reducing these accident and injury rates.

"The miners working at small mines in this country, and the operations that employ them, deserve the very best performance from MSHA," said Lauriski. The Small Mine Office will enable us to more effectively accomplish the agendas of President Bush and Secretary Chao and to meet our strategic program priorities that call for strong, fair, effective enforcement; expanded compliance assistance, education and outreach; and national leadership in promoting the value of safety and health."

MSHA's Small Mine Office will: Heading up the Small Mine Office is Kevin Burns, a 15-year veteran of MSHA. Burns has more than 20 years of experience in the mining industry. During his career, he has worked on more than a dozen regulations, including Part 46, roof control, impoundments at coal mines and explosives at metal/nonmetal mines. He has worked in several different program areas within MSHA, including Technical Support, the Office of Assessments, and Metal and Nonmetal Mine Safety and Health.

Previously, Burns was the director of safety and health services at the National Stone Association, an attorney with Buchanan Ingersoll, P.C., of Pittsburgh, and a senior counsel with the American Mining Congress. He holds an undergraduate degree in mining engineering from the University of Pittsburgh and a law degree from Duquesne University.