"I was in a mine in New Mexico about three weeks ago that had a refuge area,'' said Main, who worked for decades underground without such a fallback. "Refuge chambers are now commonplace.''
The same is true of the oxygen generators that miners wear on their belts.
"Prior to the Sago disaster you had about one apiece,'' Main said. "Now you have multiple devices available.''
The legislation also required family liaisons to work with the families of miners killed in major disasters. Main has assigned a liaison for every fatal accident. "We owe it to the families,'' he said.
Sen. Jay Rockefeller credited the MINER Act with reducing coal mine fatalities 14 percent and injuries 25 percent.
"The MINER Act was a huge step forward. Safety laws save lives and keep families intact,'' the West Virginia Democrat said.
Rockefeller, however, renewed calls for more legislation to protect miners.
"It's not enough,'' he said. "We know from the terrible tragedy at Upper Big Branch that we must do more.''
An explosion killed 29 miners at Upper Big Branch on April 5, 2010. The tragedy was the deadliest at a U.S. coal mine since 1970. It sparked state and federal civil investigations and a federal criminal probe, but little legislation.
"We have said that we think that there is a need following Upper Big Branch, with all we know, is to move forward with legislation,'' Main said.