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MSHA request increase in funding for FY2017

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World Coal,

The US Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has asked for US$397 million in funding and 2277 full-time workers as part of President Barack Obama’s 2017 budget request to Congress – a small increase from the US$395 million funding requested last year. The MSHA funding forms part of a US$1.9 billion request for the Department of Labor’s worker protection agencies.

“Everyone is entitled to a safe place to work so that they can earn a living and provide for their family,” wrote Joseph Main, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health, and Dr David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, in a blog post defending the budget requests. “Yet everyday, workers across the country and injured and killed on the job in preventable accidents. We need to make strong investments in the health and safety of America’s workforce so that everyone can return home safely.”

The MSHA funding will be used to finalise and implement new rules on dust control in underground coal mining – a part of the ‘End Black Lung – Act Now’ campaign – and proximity detection systems on continuous miners, as well as provide training assistance to the mining industry.

The second phase of MSHA’s coal dust rule came into effect on 1 February and requires coal mine operators to collect an increased number of samples to prevent overexposure to coal mine dust – the cause of black lung or coal miners’ pneumoconiosis. The rule survived a legal challenge at the end of January from two groups representing the coal industry and now moves on to phase three in August 2016, which tightens dust exposure levels to just 1.5 milligrams per cubic meter of air.

The budget request also includes US$2 million to replace laptops carried by the agencies enforcement personnel, which are used by to log violations and notes following mine inspections.

“No one should have to sacrifice their life for their livelihood,” conclude Main and Dr Michaels. “President Obama’s budget request reflects that commonsense imperative. The Labor Department is proud to work everyday to protect more than 130 million workers on 8 million work sites in the United States and this budget will enable us to do so in 2017 and beyond.”

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