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DOL News Release No. 04-2158
U.S. Department of Labor
Contact: Eryn Witcher
Phone: (202) 693-4676
Contact: Suzy Bohnert
Phone: (202) 693-9420

Released Friday, October 15, 2004

MSHA, State of West Virginia Join Forces To Enhance Mine Safety and Health

BECKLEY, W.Va.-The U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) today joined forces with the West Virginia Office of Miners' Health Safety and Training to improve miner safety and health in the state of West Virginia by targeting and reducing fatal accidents and injuries.

Both Dave D. Lauriski, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health, and Doug Conaway, director of the West Virginia Office of Miners' Health Safety and Training, announced this joint effort today at the National Mine Health and Safety Academy in Beckley, W. Va.

"MSHA is proud to align with the West Virginia Office of Miners' Health Safety and Training in addressing the cause of mining fatalities and injuries in this state and this region," said Lauriski. "Although overall mining fatalities have decreased for three consecutive years nationwide, MSHA is greatly concerned with any incident that results in death or injury and wants to work cooperatively with state officials to coordinate our efforts, resources and energy in the interest of sending every West Virginia miner home safe and healthy after each shift."

"The West Virginia Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training is committed to reversing this trend of increased accidents that we have seen this year in our state," said Conaway. "This cooperative effort with the Mine Safety and Health Administration gives us an excellent opportunity to increase awareness and provide information to every miner and mine operator. Each member of the West Virginia mining community must evaluate and review their contribution to improving our mine safety efforts."

The two organizations will combine efforts to reach out to industry and labor for input on ideas to increase awareness of mining hazards in the workplace, to solicit best practices from organizations within the industry for alleviating hazards and to call attention to problems that "near-miss" incidents can reveal in the workplace.

The two entities kicked off the new partnership with a series of phone calls Tuesday to mine operators and union representatives to share concerns about the kinds of accidents occurring in West Virginia.