The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) is the DOL agency charged with protecting the safety and health of workers working in the nation’s mines. Because use of alcohol and other drugs in the mining environment can create serious safety hazards, Working Partners works closely with MSHA to incorporate substance abuse prevention into its outreach and other compliance assistance activities.
Joint projects with MSHA focus on helping miners and mine operators to work together to develop drug-free workplace programs that protect worker safety and health and encourage individuals with alcohol and drug problems to seek help. Drug-free workplace programs are not, however, currently required under MSHA regulations. Working Partners’ joint efforts with MSHA include the following:
Drug-Free Workplace Alliance
MSHA is a participant in the Drug-Free Workplace Alliance, DOL’s first-ever cooperative agreement focusing exclusively on improving worker safety and health through drug-free workplace programs. Led by Working Partners and managed cooperatively with MSHA and DOL’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Alliance brings together a range of stakeholders, including unions, contractors and owners, to identify effective strategies for improving safety and health in the construction and mining industries through prevention and intervention. To learn more about the Alliance, visit the Drug-Free Workplace Alliance Web page.
Keeping America’s Mines Alcohol and Drug Free Campaign
To raise awareness about substance abuse issues in the mining industry, Working Partners also assists MSHA in implementing its "Keeping America’s Mines Alcohol and Drug Free” campaign—a series of education and outreach activities designed to help miners and mine operators work together to address substance use in the industry. Activities focus on educating about the dangers of impairment on the job and encourage collaborative, community-based solutions to substance abuse issues. Examples of activities include the December 2004 Tri-State Substance Abuse Summit and forming of a Tri-State Substance Abuse Task Force; the development of industry-specific training materials and posters; and participation in industry conferences and events. Also, an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) related to the use of or impairment from alcohol and other drugs on mine property has been published. An open comment period, which included seven public meetings, was held in the Fall of 2005, and about 65 written and oral comments were received.Currently, possible rulemaking options are being explored.
Working Partners also collaborates with MSHA to educate miners and mine operators about substance abuse issues through industry publications. For example, the September 2005 issue of the Professional Miner Program Newsletter was dedicated to the topic. This newsletter is sent to all participants in the Joseph A. Holmes Safety Association’s Professional Miner Program, who, in joining the program, pledge to "work to ensure a safe, healthy and alcohol- and drug-free workplace” for themselves and their coworkers. In addition, Working Partners helped create a special issue of the Joseph A. Holmes Safety Association Bulletin, which is distributed to both miners and mine operators, as well as other industry stakeholders.