FILE - In this Jan. 13, 2015 file photo, Joe Main, third from left, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health, and Patricia Silvey, center, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Operations with MSHA, speak with workers at the Gibson North mine, in Princeton, Ind. Deaths in U.S. coal mines this year have surged ahead of last year’s, and federal safety officials say the inexperience of those new to a mine could share the blame. But the nation’s coal miner’s union says the mine safety agency isn’t taking the right approach to fixing the problem. Silvey said eight of the coal miners who died this year had less than a year’s experience at the mine where they worked. "We found from the stats that category of miners were more prone to have an accident,” Silvey said in an interview with The Associated Press before the 10th death occurred at a mine in Pennsylvania on July 25. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File)

Union, feds at odds on countering surge in coal mine deaths

August 03, 2017 - 4:34 am

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Deaths in U.S. coal mines this year have surged ahead of last year's, and federal safety officials say workers who are new to a mine have been especially vulnerable to fatal accidents.

But the coal miner's union says the federal agency in charge of mine safety isn't taking the right approach to fixing the problem.

Ten coal miners have died on the job so far this year, compared to a record low of eight last year.

The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration has launched a summer initiative to send officials to the mines to observe and train those new to a mine on safer working habits.

But the miner's union, the United Mine Workers of America, says that effort falls short. The union says federal inspectors making such visits cannot punish the mine if they see safety violations.

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