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What rights do miners have in fighting discrimination?

Miners perform some of the most dangerous work in the world, let alone in Pennsylvania, and they are often at a higher risk for workplace injuries and deaths than most other workers. To address the special issues that confront miners when it comes to workplace accidents and their rights, both federal and state authorities have enacted various laws and regulations that are intended to guide employers and miners in ensuring that their working environments are safe.

So what does the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 specify? The Act states clearly that mine owners, operators and managers are prohibited from discriminating against any miner or group of miners or their representatives who might raise concerns or questions about unsafe working conditions. In fact, the Act grants miners and their representatives the right to report violations of the Act to authorities.

What compensation is required under the Act? The Act specifies that miners are entitled to be paid compensation if a mine is closed down for inspection by the Mine Safety and Health Administration and for other reasons as specified by the MSHA. In some cases, miners can require compensation for their participation in federal mine inspections and health studies. In cases of complaints about mining safety, a worker's immediate supervisor or employer may be contacted to register such concerns.

What was the purpose of the Act? Preventing mining accidents and upholding worker safety were the primary intentions of the Act. For these reasons, no miner or representative of miners can be punished for insisting on the enforcement of safety regulations under the Act. Miners and their unions or representatives also have the right to contact and use legal professionals to assert their rights in cases of Act violations, as well as harassment arising from such consultation.

Source: Mine Safety and Health Administration, "Miners' Rights and Responsibilities under the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977", accessed Dec. 4, 2014

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