Among all workers in Pennsylvania, miners are among those who have a higher chance of being injured or killed on the job. Those who work in steel and related industries, as well as in construction, also face significant injury risks. To address the problems that mining accidents present to miners, the federal government enacted safety legislation in 1977 — the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act — that outlines miners’ rights and responsibilities. Both federal and Pennsylvania authorities are tasked with enforcing the law, and its provisions to ensure that employers provide safe working environments for miners.
Mining owners and operators are prohibited from discriminating against any miner or group of miners or their representatives who raise questions or concerns about unsafe working conditions in specific mines. The federal mine act clearly states that any miner or representative has the right to report violations and unsafe working conditions to authorities.
The act further specifies that miners are entitled to compensation in the event a mine is closed for any reason, including inspection by the Mine Safety and Health Administration. Compensation is to be paid at regular wage rates and only for the hours missed by each worker. For any complaint about mining safety, the immediate supervisor or the employer can be notified about workers’ concerns.
Because the MSHA was enacted to prevent work accidents, no miner or representative may be singled out by owners or managers for relying on safety regulations under the act, which clearly specifies that harassment and demotion of a miner or representative for raising safety concerns is punishable under the act. Miners and their union or representatives have the right under the act to contact and engage legal help in all cases of mining rights violations as well as any harassment claims arising from engaging legal assistance.
Source: MSHA.gov, “Miners’ Rights and Responsibilities under the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977,” accessed on Jan. 26, 2015