Saturday marks the 10th anniversary of the Quecreek Mine Rescue, when 9 miners were rescued in Somerset County after spending 77 hours underground.
WITF-FM reports that Joe Sbaffoni, the director of the state’s Bureau of Mine Safety, says the overhaul of the state’s Mine Safety Act in 2009 has resulted in safer conditions for miners than ever before. “One injury in a mine is one too many, but when you look at the dynamic of working in a mine and the ever-changing statistics and environment, and then you look at the statistics, we’ve come a long way when it comes to mine safety,” he says.
On Sunday, in a guest opinion piece in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,Kevin G. Stricklin, an administrator for coal for the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration, reflects on his time at the rescue site, and cites mine safety improvements over the years. He writes, “Overall compliance is improving at mines after we inspect them. Violations per inspection hour are down 13 percent after mines receive an impact inspection, significant and substantial violation rates are down 21 percent, and actions requiring miners be withdrawn from a mine are down 43 percent.
Improvements are also occurring in the industry as a whole. In 2011, MSHA inspected about 14,170 mines and issued 157,613 citations and orders. This number is down from 2010, when MSHA issued 170,909 citations and orders…
But there is one thing we’ve known all along, and that doesn’t change: Mine disasters are preventable, and miners deserve to return home to their loved ones after every shift.”