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Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA)

What Does Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) Mean?

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) is an agency of the United States Department of Labor that enforces compliance with health and safety standards for the mining industry. The MSHA oversees and enforces the provisions of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act (Mine Act) of 1977 at all mining and mineral processing operations in the United States.

At the time of writing, the Acting Assistant Secretary of the MSHA is Jeannette Galanais, appointed on February 1, 2021. The Deputy Assistant Secretary for Operations is Patricia W. Silvey, who was appointed in December 2010.

Safeopedia Explains Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA)

The Mine Safety and Health Administration works in cooperation with industry, labor, and other federal and state agencies to improve the health and safety of all employees in the mining industry. It also provides technical, educational, and other types of assistance to mine operators.

MSHA Program Areas

The MSHA's activities are organized into nine major program areas:

  1. The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health, which plans, directs, and administers the organization's activities
  2. Coal Mine Safety and Health
  3. Mine Safety and Health Enforcement, which includes conducting mine inspections, investigations, and training programs
  4. Program Evaluation and Information Resources, including internal reviews and follow-ups to evaluate the effectiveness of agency programs
  5. Administration and Management, overseeing the administrative operations of MSHA
  6. Technical Support, providing engineering and technical aid
  7. Educational Policy and Development, which administers the MSHA’s training programs
  8. Standards, Regulations, and Variances, which coordinates the development and issuance of health and safety rules
  9. Assessments, which assesses and collects civil penalties for violations of the Mine Act

The Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977

The Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 (also known as the Mine Act) was amended on June 15, 2006 by the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response (MINER) Act of 2006. This legislation currently governs MSHA’s activities.

The key components of the Mine Act include:

  • Four annual inspections required at all underground mines
  • Two annual inspections required at all surface mines
  • Strengthened and expanded rights for miners
  • Enhanced protection of miners from retaliation for exercising these rights
  • Mandatory miner training provisions
  • Mine rescue teams required for all underground mines

Safety First Working Practices

The MSHA urges employers to train miners to:

  • Follow established policies and procedures
  • Comply with MSHA-approved plans
  • Recognize and mitigate or eliminate hazards before beginning work
  • Understand safe job procedures and tasks
  • Use personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Stay out of hoppers, cyclones, and chutes
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