The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has established a new Small Mine Office to address the specialized needs of the nearly 6,500 small mines around the country. MSHA defines small mines as any surface or underground operation with five or fewer employees.

"For the last several years, the fatal incident rate at small mine operations has been more than double the rate for larger mines," said MSHA chief Dave D. Lauriski. "This new division will enable us to better focus our resources on reducing these accident and injury rates."

MSHA's Small Mine Office will:

  • Develop additional training materials tailored to small mines;
  • Provide on-site compliance assistance to small mine operations;
  • Expand training and informational resources on the Web for small operators;
  • Focus compliance assistance and training visits on mines that do not have their own safety and training departments and cannot use Web-based resources;
  • Identify regulations that create an undue burden on small mine operators and develop alternate ways to provide the same level of protection.

Heading up the Small Mine Office is Kevin Burns, a 15-year veteran of MSHA. Previously, Burns was the director of safety and health services at the National Stone Association, an attorney with Buchanan Ingersoll, P.C., of Pittsburgh, and a senior counsel with the American Mining Congress.