It contains new rulemaking procedures that permits MSHA to promulgate emergency temporary standards when warranted.
And it places increased emphasis on protecting the health of miners to assure they do not suffer material impairment due to exposure to toxic substances and harmful physical agents in mine atmospheres.
Today, more than ever before, miners are vigorously exercising their rights by speaking out about unsafe conditions at their mines. MSHA, in turn, has increased its efforts to enhance miner protection from discrimination, particularly by filing complaints on their behalf, including requests for temporary reinstatement. In 2012 -- through MSHA's investigations -- 46 temporary reinstatement requests were filed, the most in the agency's history.
Enhanced enforcement initiatives, such as the monthly impact inspections of problem mines and pattern of violation notifications, are making a positive difference. Mine operators are getting the message, and their compliance continues to improve.
Like many others who worked in the mines before the 1977 Act, I know the dramatic changes that this law spurred in the mining industry.
The anniversary of MSHA coincides with another significant milestone -- the U.S. Department of Labor turned 100 years old this week. Just as the Labor Department has worked to promote and advance the interests of workers, families, job seekers and retirees for the past 100 years, MSHA strives to protect the welfare of our nation's miners, preventing death, disease and injury so that they can return home to their families after every shift.
Main is U.S. Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health.