At Brown’s Urging, Labor Department Issues Covid-Related Guidance for Miners During the Covid-19 Pandemic

Senator Has Been Urging DOL to Issue Guidance for Mine Operators to Establish a Plan to Tackle Occupational COVID-19 Exposure and Provide Miners with PPE

WASHINGTON, D.C. – At U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown’s (D-OH) urging, the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Mine Safety and Health Administration (MHSA) issued critical guidance to protect miners from COVID-19. The news comes after Brown joined Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) in a letter to the Department of Labor in February, urging the Biden Administration to issue the guidance, which will help protect mine workers from work-related COVID-19 exposure.

In the letter, Brown specifically requested MHSA issue guidance for mine operators to implement COVID-19 prevention programs at mines, including measures to ensure individuals maintain a six-feet social distance at all times, require individuals to wear a face mask that covers their mouth and nose at all times and require a COVID-19 Safety Coordinator be present on site at all times. Brown also pushed MHSA to consider safety measures for miner transport vehicles. MHSA responded to Brown’s letter this week, confirming they are following through on Brown’s requested action and more, which can be read here.

“Ohio miners have put their health at risk for years to power our country,” said Brown. “And now they’re facing more danger, as working conditions put them at higher risk of contracting COVID-19. I applaud the Biden Administration for heeding our call to issue an enforceable safety standard that will protect these miners from infectious disease, and ensure these workers have the personal protective equipment they need to prevent exposure.”

While miners risk their lives every day to power our nation, the risk has been even greater during the COVID-19 pandemic and they continue to work in close quarters and tough conditions that put them at higher risk for infection. The previous Administration had refused to issue an enforceable standard to protect workers from COVID-19 and had not taken emergency action to make mines safer.

In February, Brown joined Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Mark Warner (D-VA), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Representative Matt Cartwright (D-PA) in reintroducing the bipartisan, bicameral COVID-19 Mine Worker Protection ActThe legislation would require the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to issue an emergency temporary standard requiring mine operators to establish a plan to tackle occupational COVID-19 exposure and provide miners with the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE). Brown first introduced the legislation in May 2020.

Specifically, the COVID-19 Mine Worker Protection Act would direct the Secretary of Labor to issue an emergency temporary standard that requires mine operators to:

  • Develop and implement a comprehensive infectious disease exposure control plan to protect miners from COVID-19 exposure at the mines;
  • Provide personal protective equipment to miners;
  • Incorporate guidelines from the CDC, NIOSH, and relevant scientific research; and
  • In coordination with CDC and NIOSH, track, analyze, and investigate mine-related COVID-19 infections data in order make recommendations and guidance to protect miners from the virus.

Additional information on the COVID-19 Mine Worker Protection Act can be found here.

Text of Brown’s bill can be read here.

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