MSHA COVID-19 guidance a good first step to keep miners safe at work

MARCH 10, 2021


[TRIANGLE, VA.] Commenting on the issuance today by the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) of COVID-19 guidance for American mine operators to follow, United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) International President Cecil E. Roberts issued the following statement:


“The UMWA has been calling for federal action to help protect miners at work from contracting COVID-19 for a year. Unfortunately, our voice fell on deaf ears in the previous administration, and the results are clear. Thousands of our members were exposed to the virus at work, hundreds contracted it and took it home to their families, and some died. Much of that would have been prevented had the previous administration put worker safety first.


“The guidance issued today by MSHA is a significant step in the right direction, and our international safety team and local union safety committees will be demanding meetings with operators of the mines where we represent the workers to discuss this as soon as possible. But much more needs to be done.


“MSHA needs to build on this guidance and  quickly issue an enforceable standard that applies to all mines and miners, whether they are union members or not. The agency also needs to keep accurate statistics on the incidence of COVID-19 in America’s mines, so that a clear picture of the disease in our workplaces can be seen and acted upon.


“But regulatory standards issued by one administration can be reversed by another. That is why it is critical for Congress to pass the bipartisan legislation that has been introduced in both houses of Congress, the COVID-19 Mine Workers Protection Act, which will cement standards for this and any future infectious disease epidemic that may arise into the law. I urge Congress to act as soon as possible to pass this legislation and send it to the President.”