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May 20th, 2011
Grijalva Hails Nearly $300,000 Grant to Improve State Mine Standards As New Report Highlights Industry Need for Vigilant Oversight

Tucson, Ariz.– The U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has announced awards to eight states of more than $1.3 million to fund health and safety training programs. The Arizona State Mine Inspector’s Office has been awarded $287,287 for fiscal year 2011 as part of an effort to increase mine safety and health awareness around the state.

The awards come as a new report on West Virginia’s Upper Big Branch mine disaster of 2010, which killed 29 mine workers, finds fault both with company standards and lax regulatory oversight. According to a Washington Post article on the report:

In response to the findings, MSHA Director Joseph A. Main emphasized that his agency has stepped up enforcement since the disaster but agreed with most of the conclusions. He asked Congress to help with some of the recommended changes that would require new legislation. “We are playing a significant role in making mines safer. Yet there are mine operators that don’t get it,” Main said. “They operate differently when MSHA is not there, and they know MSHA cannot be there all the time. That’s why we have called on Congress to provide us with more tools to protect miners. We need to make sure that recalcitrant operators do get it.”

The goal of the Arizona mine training program is to reduce injuries, accidents and illnesses through increased opportunities for miners to receive federally required Annual Refresher training. This includes mine-specific content and improved training that addresses specific hazards unique to the mining industry.

“Mine safety needs to be a priority, especially with the Upper Big Branch report painting such a stark picture of how human error can lead to disasters in the industry,” Grijalva said. “This money will go a long way toward ensuring the health and safety of our miners. These funds are doing a service to the entire state of Arizona, and I’m glad to see us get the money we need to maintain high labor standards.”

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