Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne) said the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee today approved legislation she cosponsored that will provide for the first comprehensive overhaul of Pennsylvania’s mine safety laws in nearly 50 years.
“Mining has a rich history in our Commonwealth and is an important part of our state’s economy, particularly in northeastern Pennsylvania,” Baker said. “Our goal, through this legislation, is to ensure that mining operations are run safely and procedures are in place to deal with any incidents. We want to keep our workers safe on the job.”
Pennsylvania’s mine safety statute was last updated in 1961. Baker said members of the Senate worked closely with Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen McGinty, DEP officials, coal mine operators and mine union officials in developing the legislation.
Senate Bill 949 would create a new Board of Coal Mine Safety to ensure that Pennsylvania’s mine safety standards are regularly reviewed and updated. The board would be chaired by the DEP secretary, with three members representing mine operators and three representing mine workers.
The legislation also provides for greater responsibility for operators to ensure workers’ safety, and authorizes the state to establish a central database of maps of mines throughout the Commonwealth. It also addresses responses to accidents, requiring mine operators to notify DEP within 15 minutes, and updates ventilation and roof support requirements.
“Rather than reacting to events or trying to address every situation separately, this legislation establishes a board of qualified individuals to make sure state standards are solid and up-to-date,” Baker said. “The governor and his administration have indicated that they will support this legislation, which is very important to ensuring mine safety.”
Contact: Brian Grove