What are my safety rights as a miner?
Safety rights for miners
The US mines 65 different commodities, with nearly 13,000 mines across the country. Mining is a vital, yet dangerous, profession. Federal law affords certain rights to miners, and imposes responsibilities on mine operators, in an effort to improve safety conditions in mines across the United States. Under the Mine Act, miners must be provided with safety training, and have the right to request a health and safety inspections, and to report unsafe working conditions.
Knowing type of training a miner receives is crucial to their health and safety on the jobsite. All new miners must receive training under either Part 46 or Part 48, depending on the type of mine and the nature of their work. According to the Mine Act, workers who are not trained may be withdrawn from the worksite until they receive required training.
Mine operators are also required by law to report all mining accidents immediately within 15 minutes of when the operator knew or should have known about the accident.
You have a right to receive – and operators have an obligation to provide – health and safety training under 30 CFR Part 46 or Part 48 if you work in a mine or if you engage in mining operations, whether you are a rank-and-file employee or a supervisor. This includes independent contractors and the employees of independent contractors who are engaged in mining operations. You have a right to receive health and safety training under 30 CFR 46 or 48 during your normal working hours and to be paid for that time at your regular rate of pay if you are an employee of the operator.
If the training is given at a place other than your normal workplace, you must be compensated for the additional costs associated with your training. Examples of these costs include mileage, meals, and lodging. Detailed training requirements for “New Miners,” “Experienced Miners,” “Annual Refresher,” “New Task,” and “Hazard Recognition” for Surface and Underground under CFR 46 and 48 may be found at: https://www.msha.gov/training.
You must have the proper training prior to beginning work at a mine. Note that as an applicant, you do not have a right to have your future employer (or the operator) pay for the newly employed or experienced miner training. If you are laid off from work and your training expires during the lay off period, the operator is not required by the Act to pay for your training prior to your recall to work.
You have a right to withdraw yourself from the mine for not having the required health and safety training. You cannot be fired, discriminated against, or suffer loss of pay if you withdraw yourself or if you are withdrawn from a mine by an MSHA inspector because you lack the required training. You are entitled to be paid from the time you are withdrawn until you receive the required training and the MSHA inspector verifies the training.
You are required to have health and safety training under 30 CFR 46 if you work in mining operations at a sand, gravel, surface clay, surface limestone, surface stone, colloidal phosphate, or shell dredging operation, surface marble, granite, sandstone, slate, shale, traprock, kaolin, cement, feldspar, and lime operation.
If you are a worker at a mine who is not involved in mining operations, you must be provided with site specific hazard awareness training. This includes scientific workers (i.e., lab technicians); delivery workers; customers (including commercial over-the-road truck drivers); vendors; or visitors. This also includes maintenance or service workers who do not work at a mine site for frequent or extended periods. This training is not required for any person accompanied at all times by an experienced miner familiar with the specific hazards of the mine site.
Training under 30 CFR 46 is provided by a “Competent Person.” A Competent Person is defined as a person who is designated by the production-operator or independent contractor with the ability, training, knowledge, or experience to provide training to miners in his or her area of expertise. The competent person must be able to explain the training subject matter to you and must be able to evaluate whether the training you received was effective. You may, in certain cases, be able to substitute health and safety training required by other agencies. Refer to 30 CFR 46.4(a)(3) for more information.
MSHA approves training plans under Part 46 in two ways:
- A training plan is considered approved by MSHA if it meets the minimum requirements listed in 30 CFR 46.3(b).
- Training plans not meeting the minimum requirements of 30 CFR 46.3(b) must be submitted to MSHA for review and approval. Part 46 training plans are submitted to MSHA’s Regional Manager, Educational Field Services Division (Regional Manager) for review and approval.
The operator must inform you when a plan is being submitted to MSHA for approval. You or your representative may also request that MSHA examine and approve the Part 46 training plan for your mine.
Depending on which process for plan approval is followed, your representative must receive a copy of the plan from the operator at least two weeks before training starts, or at least two weeks before the plan is sent to the Regional Manager for approval. If there is no representative at your mine, the operator must post the plan or give you a copy at least two weeks before training starts, or at least two weeks before the plan is sent to MSHA’s Regional Manager for approval.
When a training plan is submitted to MSHA’s Regional Manager for approval (or a request for plan approval is made by you or your representative), MSHA will notify you, your miners’ representative, and the operator of MSHA’s decision, or the status of approval, in writing within 30 days from the time MSHA receives it. You or your representative may give written comments about the plan to the operator or MSHA’s Regional Manager (where applicable) within two weeks after the plan is received by the miners’ representative or posted at the mine.
If you request a review and approval of the plan by the MSHA Regional Manager, you must notify the production operator or independent contractor of such request. Once MSHA’s Regional Manager makes the decision to approve a training plan, the operator must give your miners’ representative a copy within one week. If there is no representative at your mine, the operator must post the plan or give you a copy within one week. Training plan decisions by MSHA’s Regional Manager can be appealed in writing within 30 days after you or your representative receives notice of the decision to the:
U.S. Department of Labor Mine Safety and Health Administration
Director for Educational Policy and Development
201 12th Street South
Arlington, VA 22202
Additional information on Part 46 training may be found at: https://www.msha.gov/training.
Part 48 applies to coal mines, underground metal and nonmetal mines, surface metal mines, and certain surface nonmetal mines that are not covered by Part 46. Under 30 CFR 48, you must have comprehensive training if:
- you work in an underground mine in extraction and production, or
- you work in shaft or slope construction, or
- you are regularly exposed to mine hazards, or
- you work in maintenance or service either employed by the operator or work for a contractor at the mine for frequent or extended periods. This includes the operator if that individual works underground on a continuing, even if irregular, basis.
Short-term, specialized contract workers, such as drillers and blasters, who work in extraction and production or work in shaft or slope construction and who have received experienced miner training may, in lieu of subsequent training under that section for each new employment, receive hazard training under 30 CFR 48.11.
Training must be conducted by an MSHA-approved training instructor, and training plans under Part 48 must be MSHA-approved. The operator must give your representative a copy of the training plan at least two weeks before it is sent to the District Manager for approval.
If there is no representative at your mine, the operator must post a copy of the plan on the mine bulletin board or gives each miner a copy of the plan at least two weeks before it is sent to the District Manager for approval.
You or your representative may submit written comments on the plan to the operator who will forward them to the District Manager You or your representative may also submit comments directly to the District Manager. The District Manager then evaluates and approves the plan or suggests changes to the plan before it is approved.
If you are an experienced miner, you must receive training if you are returning to the mine after an absence of more than 12 months. You must receive training on major changes to the mine environment that could adversely affect your health and safety if you return to work at the same mine after being away for 12 months or less.
You have the right to request that MSHA inspect your mine when you believe that a hazardous condition, imminent danger, violation of the Mine Act or MINER Act, or violation of a mandatory safety or health standard exists.
MSHA maintains a hotline, “One Call Does It All” at 1-800-746-1553, and an online complaint system at https://egov.msha.gov/HazardousConditionComplaint.aspx, on a 24-hour basis, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. You can also request an inspection by directly talking to any MSHA employee, by calling or writing any MSHA inspector or office, or via the MINER App.
There is a difference between a formal request for inspection made under Section 103(g) of the Act and all other hazardous condition complaints. This distinction is described below.
Under Section 103(g) of the Act, you or your representative have the right to request an MSHA inspection if you believe an imminent danger, violation of the Act, or violation of a mandatory safety or health standard exists at your mine. All Section 103(g) requests for inspection should be given to MSHA in writing, along with a signature from you or your representative.
A copy of the required sections of a Section 103(g) complaint is provided to the mine operator either before the start of, or during the inspection. If the complaint states that an imminent danger exists, or the information indicates an imminent danger may exist, MSHA will immediately contact the operator about the imminent danger. Your name, the name of your representative, or any references to a specific work area, equipment, work shift, or any other information that would reveal your identity on the “Request for Inspection” will remain confidential and will not be provided to the operator.
There are benefits to filing a formal Section 103(g) complaint:
- You or your representative will receive a written notice from the District Manager if MSHA decides not to conduct the requested inspection, or if no violation or imminent danger was found; and
- You may request a review of MSHA’s determination if they issue a negative finding.
Mine operators are required by law to report certain types of mining accidents immediately within 15 minutes of when the operator knew or should have known about the accident.
To report an accident or a hazardous condition, call 1-800-746-1553.
MSHA’s toll-free emergency line is staffed 24 hours a day. Call this number to immediately report a mining accident or a hazardous condition at a mine, an impoundment, or an abandoned mine.
Hazardous conditions may be reported anonymously by calling the above number or online through MSHA’s Hazardous Condition Complaint system.
En español: Reportar una condición peligrosa en una mina.
Certain types of accidents must be reported to MSHA. Operators are required by law to report the following occurrences:
- A death of an individual at a mine;
- An injury to an individual at a mine which has a reasonable potential to cause death;
- An entrapment of an individual for more than thirty minutes or which has a reasonable potential to cause death;
- An unplanned inundation of a mine by a liquid or gas;
- An unplanned ignition or explosion of gas or dust;
- In underground mines, an unplanned fire not extinguished within 10 minutes of discovery; in surface mines and surface areas of underground mines, an unplanned fire not extinguished within 30 minutes of discovery;
- An unplanned ignition or explosion of a blasting agent or an explosive;
- An unplanned roof fall at or above the anchorage zone in active workings where roof bolts are in use; or, an unplanned roof or rib fall in active workings that impairs ventilation or impedes passage;
- A coal or rock outburst that causes withdrawal of miners or which disrupts regular mining activity for more than one hour;
- An unstable condition at an impoundment, refuse pile, or culm bank which requires emergency action in order to prevent failure, or which causes individuals to evacuate an area; or, failure of an impoundment, refuse pile, or culm bank;
- Damage to hoisting equipment in a shaft or slope which endangers an individual or which interferes with use of the equipment for more than thirty minutes; and
- An event at a mine which causes death or bodily injury to an individual not at the mine at the time the event occurs.
We’re here to help.
We are committed to helping you understand your rights as a miner.
For additional assistance, please contact:
When you contact DOL, all discussions with us, including complaints, are free and confidential. Your name and the nature of the complaint will not be disclosed to your employer. The only time we would share such information is when necessary to pursue an allegation, and we would only do so then with your permission, or if required by a court.