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What does MSHA do? And it’s History!

Mining has long been considered one of the world’s most dangerous jobs. From explosions and cave-ins to methane gas and carbon monoxide, every time a miner descends below the Earth’s surface, they face a range of hazardous working conditions, conditions that have, unfortunately, taken thousands upon thousands of lives.

In order to improve safety within the industry, the federal government established the Bureau of Mines in 1910, whose original goal was to conduct research to improve mine safety. But over the decades, the Bureau’s responsibilities expanded vastly, pushing Congress to create a new enforcement agency, the Mining Enforcement and Safety Administration (MESA), in 1973. MESA enforced all safety and health regulations associated with U.S. mines, while the Bureau of Mines focused on mineral resource development.

Despite these agencies working together to create safer mines and industry-specific regulations, there were still an average of 356 mine fatalities per year between 1967 and 1976. So Congress reorganized everything again, and in 1977, the Mine Act was passed, and with it, the enforcement agency moved over to the Department of Labor and the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) was formed.

MSHA’s role in saving lives

The signing of the Mine Act affected every aspect of mine safety and health, providing changes to “how the law is administered and who is covered, the establishment of new avenues of appeal for mine operators who are covered, the establishment of new avenues of appeal for mine operators who contest citations for violations, and increased involvement by miners or their representatives in processes affecting their safety and health,” according to the Department of Labor.

In the first year MSHA operated, mine fatalities dropped by more than 32% to a total of 242 deaths. Last year, that number dropped to 29.

Mining Fatalities and Importance of MSHA miner training
Source: MSHA.gov

What does MSHA do?

MSHA works to prevent death, illness and injury from mining while promoting safe and healthful workplaces for U.S. miners. Today, the agency is organized into the nine major program areas:

  • Office of the Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health
  • Coal Mine Safety and Health
  • Metal and Nonmetal Mine Safety and Health
  • Program Evaluation and Information Resources
  • Administration and Management
  • Technical Support
  • Educational Policy and Development
  • Standards, Regulations and Variances
  • Assessments, Accountability, Special Enforcement and Investigations

MSHA has played a vital role in the U.S. mining industry since its formation, and it has implemented significant requirements such as mandatory safety training, annual inspections of all surface mines and required rescue teams for all underground mines.

Through MSHA, federal laws now require all miners receive basic and annual refresher training, which are governed by sections of the federal code – 30 CFR Part 48 and Part 46. Part 48 covers all underground mining and surface mining of coal and some metals, like gold, while Part 46 covers the aggregate industry, including granite, sand, gravel, lime and cement operations.

What’s the easiest way to take MSHA miner training?

Today, it’s easier than ever to complete this required training: MSHA classes – whether for new miners or annual refreshers – can be taken online. Easybook Training offers the complete suite of required MSHA miner training courses that can be booked directly online. All courses are offered in both English and Spanish and include:

With online MSHA training catered to one’s time and availability, there’s no more excuses relating to schedules or location. Book your MSHA miner training today with Easybook Training and go home safe tomorrow.