The newly appointed Acting Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health has no background in mine safety and health – something which a union representing thousands of U.S. miners finds “troubling.”

Wayne Palmer, who will helm the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), has served as senior White House advisor in the Trump administration and as chief of staff to Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Penn.) and legislative director to Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio).

"What does he know about coal dust?"

“Mr. Palmer may be a fine man and has experience working in the government. But what does he know about float coal dust and its dangers?” said United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) International President Cecil E. Roberts in a statement. “What does he know about the need for ventilation, roof control, rock dusting, and a hundred other things that the person in charge of keeping our miners safe and secure needs to know?

“At a time when fatalities and serious injuries are on the rise again, after having fallen for six consecutive years, the appointment of someone with absolutely no apparent experience in mine safety and health to this position is troubling, to say the least.”

Position needs an expert

Roberts said the Assistant Secretary “is a very important one for the lives and health of our nation’s miners. It needs to be filled by someone who is an expert in the field, so that miners can have confidence that their government is putting the best people in positions to watch out for them on the job. I am not sure this appointment meets that test.”