House lawmakers from coal states unveiled legislation have unveiled legislation that would force the Trump administration to establish an enforceable standard to protect miners from the coronavirus.
The Labor Department’s Mine Safety and Health Administration has been reluctant to issue an emergency temporary standard for infectious diseases during the pandemic.
The “COVID-19 Mine Worker Protection Act,” by Reps. Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.) and David McKinley (R-W.Va.), would require the agency to adopt such a measure. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) introduced a companion bill, S. 3710, in May.
“Miners already have a tough job as it is. But now, working in close quarters puts them at risk of contracting COVID-19,” Cartwright said.
The lawmakers say an emergency standard is necessary because mines are unique workplaces that make general guidelines like social distancing difficult to abide by. MSHA says broad standards make workers safer because they can be adapted to fit conditions at a variety of mines.