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DOL/MSHA News Release 03-193
Mine Safety and Health Administration
Contact: Amy Louviere
Phone: (202) 693-9423

Released Tuesday, April 22, 2003

MSHA Urges Kids to "Stay Out and Stay Alive!"
National Safety Campaign Kicks off Fifth Year

ARLINGTON, Va.- The U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) today kicked off its annual "Stay Out-Stay Alive" national public awareness campaign to warn children about the dangers of exploring and playing on mine property. Since 1999, more than 100 children and adults have died in recreational accidents on mine property.

"Active and abandoned mine sites can be an irresistible draw to outdoor enthusiasts, but they can also be deadly," said Dave D. Lauriski, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "If you haven't been trained as a miner, I urge you to find safer places to explore, because mines and quarries definitely are not playgrounds."

There are approximately 14,000 active and as many as 500,000 abandoned mines in the United States. As cities and towns spread into the surrounding countryside and more people visit remote locations, the possibility of contact with an active or abandoned mine increases. Over the next two weeks, MSHA personnel will deliver safety talks in schools throughout the country to educate children about the importance of steering clear of these sites.

Lauriski can personally testify to the dangers, having participated in both a rescue and a recovery at two abandoned underground mines in Utah. In 1989, a 10-year-old Boy Scout who became separated from his troop during a hike was rescued from an abandoned mine five days later. In 1996, Lauriski helped recover the body of an 18-year-old spelunker who fell to his death down an old mine shaft.

Hazards in underground abandoned mines include deep vertical shafts, horizontal openings supported by rotting timbers, unstable rock formations, and the presence of unused or misfired explosives. Water-filled quarries may conceal rock ledges and old machinery, and the water often is deceptively deep and dangerously cold. Old surface mines contain hills of loose materials in stockpiles or refuse heaps that can easily collapse.

MSHA pioneered "Stay Out--Stay Alive" in 1999 and today, more than 90 federal and state agencies, private organizations, businesses and individuals are active partners in the campaign.