Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977

Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977

The Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 amended and expanded upon the 1969 FCMHS. (The act was inspired by yet another tragedy, the Scotia disaster of 1976, which took the lives of twenty-six miners.) This act moved mine enforcement duties from the Department of the Interior to the Department of Labor, where the agency’s name was changed to the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). Under the new law there was to be no advanced warning to the operators who were to come under review. No search warrant would be required (a caveat that the Supreme Court upheld in the early eighties). The Amendments Act also included a provision for the punishment of persistent offenders, but it was frustratingly imprecise in its language, leaving the responsibility of defining “a pattern of violations” to the head of the enforcement agency. The most powerful weapon at MSHA command is the withdrawal order, which basically forces an operator to shut-down their mine until the necessary health and safety measures are carried out. But withdrawal orders are almost never employed. In 1977, the mine act was extended to mining industries besides coal.

Cry Wolf Quotes

But, I must say, that training and education in themselves are no panacea for the industry’s accident problem. What, in addition must be done is to find a way to motivate people to think and work safely. All miners must want to observe safety laws, rules, and regulations, and perform their daily task without endangering themselves and their fellow workers.

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Ralph Bailey chairman and chief executive officer of Consolidation Coal Co. on behalf of the National Coal Association and the Bituminous Coal Operators Association, Testimony, House Subcommittee on Labor Standards.

The coal industry accepts its responsibilities for the safe operation of its mines and where regulation achieves greater safety, we have no quarrel. But, where it does not enhance safety, we believe that Federal regulation is misplaced and counterproductive. Rigid, inflexible, thoughtless regulation, no matter how well intended, can have a plainly detrimental effect on achieving a safe, efficient, and productive coal industry. It’s the overregulation and enforcement of the Act as an end in itself that has caused the coal industry most of its problems…

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Ralph Bailey chairman and chief executive officer of Consolidation Coal Co. on behalf of the National Coal Association and the Bituminous Coal Operators Association, Testimony, House Subcommittee on Labor Standards.

Our production could be increased but we are severely hampered by overzealous Federal inspectors and voluminous and continually multiplying Federal laws and regulations.

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Cloyd D. McDowell, president of the National Independent Coal Operators Association. Testimony, House Subcommittee on Labor Standards.

Evidence