Washington – The Mine Safety and Health Administration has an injury and illness rate more than double that of the industry it is tasked with keeping safe, prompting questions about the agency’s internal prevention activities.
In a May 14 letter (.pdf file) to MSHA administrator Joseph A. Main, Rep. John Kline (R-MN) requested that the agency provide detailed information by May 28 on the nature, cause and location of the injuries and illnesses MSHA staff has suffered since fiscal year 2007. Kline, chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, also requested all communications sent to MSHA employees regarding their safety in the field, and a list and description of all management initiatives to reduce internal injuries and illnesses.
Citing OSHA and MSHA data, Kline noted that the agency had an average of 5.69 injuries and illnesses per 100 employees in the past five years. The mining industry rate was 2.81. One on-the-job employee death occurred at the agency between 2007 and 2011, according to OSHA. The mining industry had 262 deaths in the same period, MSHA (.pdf file) data shows.