What is MSHA?

The Mine Safety and Health Administration is the current governing body overseeing the safety of mines in the country and like OSHA, is an agency of the United States Department of Labor. At the core of MSHA is the enforcement of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 (also known as the Mine Act) which amended the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969. The Mine Act required annual inspections at all mines, strengthened and expanded miners’ rights, enhanced protections for miners, and established mandatory miner training provisions. These are only some of the key components of current legislation, but some of the most important ones.

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What does MSHA do? 

MSHA is made up of several divisions like the Coal Mine Safety and Health division and the metal-Nonmetal Mine Safety and Health division. Every single mine in the United States, no matter the size of the operation or how many miners are working, is covered by the Mine Act. MSHA provides technical and educational assistance as well as offers compliance assistance to mine operators. Like OSHA, MSHA has developed industry-wide standards and regulations that must be followed to keep workers properly trained and safe on the job. A mine will need to keep the appropriate documentation of trainings and keep reports up to date.

Under the Mine Act, MSHA is required to conduct inspections. Mine inspections are much more formal than OSHA inspections as an underground mine must be thoroughly inspected at least four times every year. Inspections are conducted annually and when a violation occurs, a citation is issued. The Mining Safety and Health Administration may seem identical to OSHA, but their role for mining in the United States is extremely important. The combination of strong enforcement and active outreach that MSHA practices has reduced mining deaths from nearly 250 in the 1970s down to 28 fatalities in the year of 2015.


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