On Tuesday, the U.S. House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections held an oversight hearing on MSHA and mine safety, featuring Assistant Secretary of Labor David Zetazelo, who outlined his priorities for MSHA. Zatezalo was the sole witness to appear and answer questions from Democrats and Republicans alike. An archive of the hearing video and opening statements can be found here.
Mr. Zatezalo began his testimony by stating his commitment to further improving mine safety:
In 2017 a total of 28 mining fatalities occurred. That is 28 too many. I strongly believe, as I know you agree, even one mining fatality is one too many. However, 2017 represented the second lowest number of deaths ever recorded and the third year in MSHA’s history that there were fewer than 30 fatalities.
The Assistant Secretary emphasized several 2018 priorities:
- 2018 implementation of a new inspection tool to improve inspector communications, data and information availability.
- Review of an expected National Academy of Sciences study and report on occupational diseases associated with dust exposures.
- A request for information on new mining technologies that can advance safety, particularly for haulage equipment. Haulage and mobile equipment were involved in 24 fatalities in 2017.
- Identification of regulations that should be updated or reformed (e.g., references to dated electrical codes).
- Visits to every MSHA district office.
Source: Safety Law Matters, an onling blog by Husch Blackwell