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Posts Tagged ‘MSHA’

Flickr photo by Thiophene_Guy

As Congress plods through its lame-duck session, the prospects of the Robert C. Byrd Mine Safety and Health Act getting a vote on the House floor are doubtful. In the Senate, they’re nonexistent. Despite the life-saving, job-saving, and even money-saving measures contained in the legislation, the bill will likely die this Congress and the issue of mine and workplace safety will fade from congressional and national consciousness until the next horrific disaster.

In a year where multiple high-profile workplace tragedies–Upper Big Branch Mine, Deepwater Horizon, Tesoro Refinery, Kleen Energy–captured news cycles and Congress’ attention, it is deeply disappointing to watch the prospects for passage dim. Before Congress adjourned in September, the bill passed out of the House Education and Labor Committee and was placed on the calendar for a vote. It has languished since then. In the Senate, Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia attempted to bring the bill to the Senate floor for debate but was blocked by Republican Senator Mike Enzi. (more…)

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An editorial in yesterday’s New York Times calls on Congress to take action on pending mine and workplace safety legislation before another tragedy like the Upper Big Branch mine disaster or the Deepwater Horizon explosion occurs.

The House and Senate are each considering similar versions of the “Robert C. Byrd Mine Safety and Health Act,” legislation that would promote safer workplaces by protecting whistleblowers who report unsafe conditions, increasing penalties for mine and workplace operators who endanger the lives of their workers, and giving the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) more authority to force employers to quickly abate hazardous conditions.

Earlier this summer, the House voted its bill out of committee and it currently awaits a floor vote. As usual, the Senate is moving at a slower pace. Public Citizen has called on Congress to take action to reduce the 5,000 worker fatalities that happen each year by passing this important legislation.

For more information on this legislation, check out our fact sheet, letter to Congress, and backgrounder (all are in PDF format). Or view the text of the House and Senate bills.

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Today, Congress took an important step to improve workplace safety. The House Committee on Education and Labor passed the Robert C. Byrd (named after the late Senator from West Virginia) Miner Safety and Health Act. The bill now advances to the House floor where it will hopefully come up for a vote soon. This is an important piece of legislation. David Arkush, director of our Congress Watch division, explained its potential effects in a statement released today:

The legislation addresses two key areas in particular: (more…)

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