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Government Shutdown Impacts Miner Safety
Written by Lindsey Watson
Last updated on October 10, 2013 @ 7:23PM
Created on October 10, 2013 @ 5:53PM

The partial government shut down has sidelined thousands of inspectors who monitor everything from air and water pollution, to safety hazards at factories and coal mines.

Those cutbacks mean safety regulators can't do routine inspections of those high-hazard workplaces.

Since the shutdown began, three mine workers died in separate accidents that occurred over a three day span.

However, there isn't any indication that those deaths occurred because of fewer inspections by the mine safety and health administration. But its been enough to send a red flag to officials with the united mine workers of America, and local miners as they continue their work.

At the beginning of the month, MSHA gave lay off notices to nearly 1,400 employees who enforce mine safety laws from West Virginia to Montana.

"Now fortunately at our union operations, we have safety committee folks in place, and we have instructed them to step up their inspections to make sure that our members look out for each other until we get through this very difficult time." said UMWA District 31 Vice President Mike Caputo

In a statement, UMWA President Cecil Roberts said it is extremely troubling that within a week after the federal government shutdown caused the normal system of mine safety inspection, and enforcement to come to a halt.

Local miners also shared Roberts concern, and have warned their workers to be cautious in their work.

"The government shutdown is affecting people's lives at the coal mine, and something needs to be done because we're looking at a lot of potential tragedies that could happen." said Dan Brown, Loveridge Mine: Mine Committee Chairman

While the shutdown continues to take place,  the Obama administration has urged the mining industry to increase its safety compliance efforts, and use continued caution while in the mines.

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