The U.S. Department of Labor Mine Safety and Health Administration awarded the Tennessee Mine Safety Unit a grant of $140,000. The funds will be used to support health and safety training courses and programs designed to reduce mining accidents, injuries, and illnesses, Labor & Workforce Development Commissioner Burns Phillips announced.
“Mining is considered one of the most dangerous jobs and too often turns fatal, as we saw in the coal mining accident in West Virginia just last week,” said Phillips.
“Frequent and up-to-date mine rescue training is of paramount importance to Tennessee’s mining industry.
“We’re pleased the administrator of our Workplace Regulations and Compliance Division - Mine Safety Unit, Kim Jefferson, and her staff obtained this federal grant to enhance our mine safety program. Our goal continues to be the safe return home of every miner at the end of his shift.”
The last time a Tennessee mine rescue team received a callout to a mine emergency was late December 2013 for an underground fire at the Nyrstar Immel mine near Knoxville. There were no injuries in that incident.
Tennessee has two mine rescue teams, made up of part-time employees who train in Caryville and who respond to mine emergencies under intense pressure and time constraints. They are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. As well as training rescue team workers, the Mine Safety Unit instructors conduct mine safety training required for all miners working in coal mines, crushed stone quarries, and sand and gravel pits.
The grant money will assist in strengthening the state’s mine safety programs, such as the 4th Annual Metal/Nonmetal Mine Rescue Contest held in Caryville on May 9. At those events, competing teams are judged on their response to a mining accident scenario – such as a fire or explosion – on merits of accuracy of exploration, mapping, ventilation, and speed.
Tennessee has approximately 270 mines across the state, mostly metal/nonmetal.
Photo from 4th Annual Metal/Nonmetal Mine Rescue Contest