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The CHAIRMAN. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from Michigan?
There was no objection.
Mr. O’HARA of Michigan. Mr. Chairman, I will explain briefly the purpose, background, and need for H.R. 8989, the Federal Metal and Nonmetallic Mine Safety Act, and then answer such questions as Members of the House may have.
Undoubtedly, everyone in this Chamber today is aware that mining is an unusually dangerous occupation. I do not believe, however, that everyone fully realizes just how dangerous this occupation is. The tragic fact, Mr. Chairman, is that seven out of every hundred underground metal miners are killed, in workaccidents, during the course of their working lifetimes.
Let me reemphasize this shocking statistic. Of each one hundred young men who enter into a lifetime career as an underground metal miner, no less than seven of them can expect to die in onthe-job accidents before they reach normal retirement age. This single fact speaks volumes concerning the appalling risk of violent death to which the underground miner is exposed. And, of course, it does not reflect the additional suffering and losses of the thousands of miners who, every year, are crippled and otherwise injured in accidents, or who fall victims to such grave occupational diseases as silicosis and lung cancer, brought on by excessive exposure to dusty and radioactive mine atmospheres.
The story told by the injury data collected by the National Safety Council and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is very clear. Consistently, year after year, the injury rates for “Underground Mining, Except Coal” have been among the three or four highest for all the categories of industry surveyed. In only two major industries are these rates found to be, in most years, as high as, or higher than, the rates for “Underground Mining, Except Coal.” One of these two industries is underground coal mining; the other is marine transportation. And in both these industries the exceptionally hazardous nature of the work has been recognized by the Congress, through the passage of legislation establishing Federal responsibility for the promotion of improved safety in them. The Federal Coal Mine Safety Act and the Longshoremen’s and Harbor Worker's Compensation Act have been enacted, in response to the need for a determined national effort to reduce the risks undergone by coal miners and workers in marine transportation. The time has now come to extend Federal safety legislation to this third exceptionally dangerous category of industry—metal and nonmetallic mining.
Mr. Chairman, the Federal Metal and Nonmetallic Mine Safety Act is before us today as the fruition of a number of years of study and persistent work by Members of this House and others who have long been concerned with the welfare of our Nation's mineworkers. Nine years ago. in 1956, a subcommittee of the Committee on Education and Labor conducted thorough hearings on the unsatisfactory health and safety conditions in metal
and nonmetallic mines. Those hearings strongly indicated that Federal legislation was needed, but it did not prove possible at that time to extend this protection to the workers in these mines. In 1961, however, the Committee on Education and Labor directed another set of subcommittee hearings to be held on the serious, continuing problem of health and safety in mines other than coal. Those hearings led to the enactment of Public Law 87-300, in September 1961, which instructed the Secretary of the Interior to conduct an intensive 2-year study of health and safety hazards in these mines, to evaluate the adequacy of the mine safety legislation and programs of the individual States, and to present to the Congress the findings of his study and whatever recommendations for Federal action the study showed to be appropriate.
The study ordered by Public Law 87300 was skillfully and thoroughly carried out, during the years 1962 and 1963, by a special mine safety study board appointed by Secretary Udall. Its detailed, comprehensive findings and recommendations were embodied in a twovolume report of approximately 200 pages.
Mr. Chairman, what were the findings of the mine safety study board's report‘? Only enough time is available to allow a very brief review of their highlights. In summary, the 2-year study showed that accidents in metal and nonmetallic mining and milling establishments were claiming lives at a rate of more than 200 per year, and causing approximately 10,000 nonfatal injuries per year—including, of course, many injuries that left their victims permanently disabled.
In addition, inspectors from the U.S. Bureau of Mines, during the course of this 2-year study, found an appalling number of identifiable hazards in the metal and nonmetallic mines they visited. The number of such hazards, in fact, averaged 15 per mine—15 correctible conditions in each mine, on the average, which stood as a menace to the worker's life and health.
It is true that most—but by no means all—of the mining and milling operations surveyed in this 2-year study were subject to State mine safety legislation. Mine safety enforcement in most States was of limited effectiveness although in some other States it was quite good. But on the whole, the job done in the field of health and safety enforcement by the States was not of such quality and character as to give us confidence that the job could be handled by leaving it entirely to State responsibility.
The recommendation of the Mine Safety Study Board, on the basis of its 2-year study, was that a Federal law be enacted to establish and enforce health and safety standards in metal and nonmetallic mining and milling operations.
The Board's conclusion was:
In the face of 10.000 lost-time injuries and more than 200 deaths in a single year, it would be diflicult to ignore the need for positive action. The present structure of State law coverage and enforcement is clearly inadequate to deal comprehensively with the problem of safety in the mineral industry.
Following the Board's recommendation, the Secretary of the Interior transmitted to the Congress, on March 29 of this year, a draft of the administration’s proposed Federal Metal and Nonmetallic Mine Safety Act. This proposed legislation, as HR. 6961, was promptly introduced on behalf of the administration and, during May, the Select Subcommittee on Labor held a week of hearings on the bill.
On the basis of these hearings and in consultation with minority members of the Committee on Education and Labor, a number of improving amendments were developed to the original administration bill. These amendments are embodied in HR. 8989, the bill before us today, which was reported from the committee on July 8.
This bill, Mr. Chairman, represents a bipartisan consensus of both majority and minority members of the committee who feel a deep concern for the hazards to which mineworkers are exposed and an irnpelling need to take action to reduce these hazards to the lowest possible level. No objection was voiced to this bill in the committee meetings at which it was considered, and no minority report accompanies it. Clearly, an overwhelmingly convincing case exists for this legislation, to enable it to come to the floor today with such solid bipartisan support from the members of the Committee on Education and Labor.
The main provisions of this bill, Mr. Chairman, can be quickly summarized. Its coverage will extend to all metal and nonmetal mining and milling operations whose products regularly enter commerce or whose operations affect commerce, with certain exceptions. It will not cover coal mining, an industry already subject to the Federal Coal Mine Safety Act, and it will not cover petroleum or any other mineral which is extracted from the earth in liquid form, unless workers are actually employed underground in the extraction process.
The bill directs the Secretary of the Interior to develop health and safety standards for the various categories of mining and milling operations that will be covered. The Secretary, however, must appoint advisory committees to consult with him in developing appropriate standards, and each such advisory committee must include in its membership at least one representative of a State mine inspection or safety agency, as well as one or more representatives of mine workers and of mine operators. The number of representatives of mine operators on each advisory committee must be equal to number of representatives of workers.
This requirement of advisory committees. Mr. Chairman, is an important and equitable feature of this legislation. It guarantees that those who have a particularly direct and immediate interest in mine safety—the workers, the mine operators, and State officials with mine safety responsibilities—will be in continuous and close consultation with the Secretary of the Interior concerning the details of all health and safety standards that he may establish. With such consultation, there is every reason to believe that the standards developed will not only be adequate to safeguard the lives and health of the workers, but will also be supported as necessary and reasonable by the large majority of mine operators who are seriously concerned with safety conditions in their industry.
Of the health and safety standards which the Secretary develops, in consultation with the advisory committees, those which deal with "conditions or practices which could cause death or serious physical harm" must be designated as mandatory standards—and. therefore, to be enforced in all mining and milling operations subject to the act.
With respect to enforcement, Mr. Chairman, this legislation has an unusual and imaginative feature. It sets forth two alternative routes toward the accomplishment of the same goal: improved health and safety conditions in our mining industry. In effect, each State is offered the option of choosing between its own State enforcement, and Federal enforcement, of adequate standards—and, indeed, each State is encouraged to opt for State enforcement. This bill, therefore, will not necessarily lead to direct enforcement of mine health and safety standards by Federal authority in any State of the Union. The decision is left to each individual State, and each State is invited to take upon itself the responsibility that must otherwise be shouldered by Federal authority.
Under this legislation, each State may submit to the Secretary of the Interior its own plan for enforcement of mine health and safety standards. If the plan meets certain specified conditions, the Secretary must approve it—and, so long as such an approved plan is in effect, all enforcement power will rest exclusively in the hands of the State authorities. The major conditions which the State plan must meet, in order to gain the Secretary's approval, are these:
It must provide for inspection, at least annually, of all mining and milling operations subject to the act, except quarries and sand and gravel pits, which may be inspected less frequently than annually.
It must provide for enforcement of State health and safety standards which are substantially as effective as—though not necessarily identical with—the mandatory standards which the Secretary has developed, in consultation with advisory committees.
It must provide for sufficient funds and a suflicient number of qualified personnel to enable a satisfactory inspection and enforcement program to be carried out by the State.
The responsibility of the Secretary of the Interior does not, of course, entirely cease upon his approval of a State plan. He will be required to make a continuing evaluation of the manner in which the plan is carried out, to assure that the State continues, over the years, to provide necessary financial resources, competent personnel, and conscientious administration.
If he should find that a State has allowed its mine health and safety pro—
gram to deteriorate, so that it is no longer meeting the obligations it assumed upon approval of its plan, then the Secretary must withdraw his approval, and thereupon assume direct Federal responsibility for enforcement of standards. However, he must provide the State with opportunity for a hearing, before canceling his approval of a plan. The Secretary, that is, cannot act arbitrarily, without considering carefully the case the State may wish to present in defense of its mine health and safety program.
Only time will tell, Mr. Chairman, whether each of our States will decide to respond to the strong encouragement this legislation gives them to develop their own plans for enforcement of adequate mine health and safety standards. The alternative of direct Federal enforcement is provided for any State which does not so decide. Where enforcement responsibility rests with the Secretary of the Interior, the act will require that he inspect, at least annually, each underground mine—and that he inspect other mining and milling operations at such intervals as he deems necessary. Whenever an inspection reveals a hazardous condition which threatens imminent death or serious physical harm, the Federal inspector must issue an order of withdrawal and debarment, which forbids the presence of any person in the area in which the danger exists, other than persons whose presence there is necessary in order to eliminate the danger. Orders of withdrawal and debarment may also be issued to mine operators who have failed to take proper action to abate violations of mandatory Federal health and safety standards within reasonable time periods specified by Federal inspectors—even though the violations may not constitute an imminent danger of death or serious physical harm.
Ultimately, Mr. Chairman, the Secretary’s power of enforcement, in any State which does not have its own ap— proved plan, must rest upon his authority to issue orders of withdrawal and debarment. The legislation contains adequate safeguards against the arbitrary use of such orders, however. It affords the mine operator the opportunity to appeal to the Secretary, and receive a hearing, before a final order may be issued by the Secretary—and it then affords him an appeal to a U.S. court of appeals for a review of any such final order. Pending its decision on the appeal, the court is given the authority to postpone the effective date for enforcement of the Secretary's order, or grant the mine operator such other relief as the court considers to be appropriate.
Mr. Chairman, these are the essential provisions of the bill before us. The bill is an eminently fair and reasonable one, which takes into balanced consideration the interests of the mine workers, the mine operators, and the mine safety agencies of the individual States.
Your committee, Mr. Speaker, has extensively amended the administration bill to provide a cooperative FederalState safety arrangement. The bill as sent to us by the administration pro
vided for a Federal system of inspection and enforcement of health and safety standards in these mines.
The committee, with the very able and generous cooperation of the minority members of the committee, and the distinguished chairman of the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs, has amended the bill to provide a program that we hope will result in strengthened State mine safety regulation. We hope that after this program gets rolling, if the bill is enacted, there will not be any need for direct Federal enforcement of health and safety standards, because we have provided opportunities for the States to adopt and enforce adequate State safety programs which would then substitute for Federal enforcement activ_ ity within their particular jurisdictions.
We should like to see this job done by local authorities, but we feel that we have a responsibility to see to it that the job is being done before we turn it over to local authorities.
Mr. Chairman, the provisions of the bill are well known to the members of the committee, and to the chairman and the members of the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs.
Unless there are questions, and since there seems to be pretty general agreement in respect to the provisions of the bill, I am prepared to yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. EDMONDSON. Mr. Chairman, will the gentleman yield?
Mr. O’HARA of Michigan. the gentleman from Oklahoma.
Mr. EDMONDSON. I appreciate the gentleman yielding.
I should like to state that I appreciate also his recognition of the fact that a very fine job is being done in the field of safety in many of the States.
As I understood him to say a few minutes ago, it is his hope that the States across the country will take up this burden and handle the problem without the necessity of Federal inspection service and without the necessity of Federal intervention in many instances.
Would the gentleman also agree with me—and this has been my experience— that an excellent job is done in the field of safety by most mining companies, and, in fact, it is the exception in many, many fields, and in many areas where there is mining, where there is not a recognition by the mining companies that safety is good business, that it is a very sound business practice to promote safety in every way possible?
Mr. O’HARA of Michigan. In response to that particular question. I should like to say to the gentleman that there are many companies that have admirable safety programs. In those companies the injury frequency rate is considerably less than the average for the industry. That means at the same time there must be many others that are not doing anywhere near an adequate job in the field of safety.
The gentleman is perfectly right. If all companies would do as well as the best do, we would not be spending our time on this bill today.
Mr. EDMONDSON. I think the gentleman made a splendid statement.
I yield to Personally I want to express by appreciation to him for his willingness at least to listen to suggestions and ideas about this program and for the very reasonable attitude he has demonstrated with reference to the amendments which were principally prepared by the able chairman of the full Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs [Mr. ASPINALL].
Mr. O’HARA of Michigan. I thank the gentleman from Oklahoma for his comment.
With respect to those amendments, I want the committee to know that I will be offering several amendments when the bill is read for amendment which have been agreed to in discussions among the gentleman from Colorado, the gentleman from Oklahoma, the minority members of the committee, and myself as being improvements in the bill and which we are proud to sponsor and which we hope the House will adopt.
Mr. HALL. Mr. Chairman, will the gentleman yield?
Mr. O’HARA of Michigan. I yield to the gentleman.
Mr. HALL. I simply have two questions for information. No. 1, will these Federal-State mine safety regula
tions involve mine shafts that are no longer operative insofar as far as safety regulations and precau
tions are concerned? We have lost a great number of fine citizens because of cave-ins and/or property loss occasioned thereby, to say nothing of the loss of children. I wonder if the gentleman could address himself to that thought.
Mr. O'HARA of Michigan. I am very happy that the gentleman brought up that question. We felt probably the Federal Government itself did not have the power to enforce safety regulations with respect to conditions in abandoned mines, the products of which were no longer entering commerce. However, we believe that the States did have such power and should have standards with respect to losses of life and property which occur around abandoned workings. So we wrote into this bill a provision to encourage the States to do their own enforcement with respect to abandoned mines. We said that before we would turn enforcement authority over to them, they had to include not only a health and safety program which was adequate in terms of actual operative mines, but they had to have a provision which would protect against loss of life and property in abandoned mines. I agree with the gentleman and several other Members of Congress who have spoken to me about the same point, that there is often more hazard connected with an abandoned mine than there is with an operative mine. So State plans will have to include provisions applicable to them.
Mr. HALL. I thank the gentleman. We have even gotten to the place where we lose skindivers in abandoned mines that are filled with water and which have not been pumped out.
My second question is one of jurisdiction, actually, and not one where I raise the least bit of question.
I notice the Department of the Interior is the action agency of the executive
branch of the Government on this and that it also deals with health and safety. Was it just a matter of reference in the gentleman's original bill to his own committee, or would ordinarily the House Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs bring out such a bill or even the Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce, since the Secretary of the Interior is involved and the interstate clause of the Constitution is involved? I am simply interested in it personally and ask it without any objection whatever, but I would like to hear the gentleman discuss the matter.
Mr. O’HARA of Michigan. I am even happy that the gentleman asked that question. As a distinguished member of the Joint Committee on Congressional Reorganization, perhaps the gentleman can do something about committee jurisdiction, but just as the Committee on Education has no jurisdiction over education in the health professions, which goes to the Committee on Commerce, for some reason, the Committee on Education is specifically assigned jurisdiction over all matters having to do with the health and safety of workers.
Mr. HALL. In other words, it is the labor section of the Committee on Education and Labor that has reference to it and is the reason for the assignment?
Mr. O’HARA of Michigan. That is correct.
Mr. HALL. I thank the gentleman.
Mr. McCLORY. Mr. Chairman, will the gentleman yield?
Mr. O’HARA of Michigan. the gentleman from Illinois.
Mr. McCLORY. I have several questions I would like to ask the gentleman with regard to this legislation. I have a telegram which I received expressing opposition to this legislation on behalf of a person who is interested in metal mines. He seems to take the position that the metal mines are doing a good job, the iron mines, which are producing iron ore. I wondered as to whether there was any consideration or whether there was any inclination to exempt such mines from the purview of this legislation.
Mr. O’HARA of Michigan. The committee went into the various aspects of mining and we found a variance in injury frequency rates as between the different kinds of mining operations. But we do not feel there were enough differences between them, even though there were differences of degree, to justify our taking one or another class and saying, “You do not have to be subject to this law but the others do.” While there were differences. they were rather small differences of degree, not great enough to justify covering some and not others.
Mr. McCLORY. Mr. Chairman, may I ask one other question, if the gentleman will yield further? The writer of the telegram appears to feel that the State and the county inspection is adequate and that there will be a centralization of authority developed from this legislation. However, I note in the report of the committee on page 15 that there is a provision for exempting, or entering into agreements with State boards with regard to State inspections. I have this question of this gentleman.
I yield to
I am wondering if, in the enactment of this Federal legislation, there is not going to be an inclination on the part of the State and local inspectors to relinquish their authority; so that we may lose the benefit of these fine State agencies in favor of a Federal agency or a Federal mine inspection authority? How does the gentleman feel about that?
Mr. O’HARA of Michigan. I think that is a question on which each individual would have to make his own judgment. But I think it is rather clear from the testimony of State ofiicials who appeared before us and from testimony of mine operators and representatives of mine operations who appeared before us, that they have a very great preference for State safety regulation. It is our firm expectation that most, if not all—and probably all—of the States will avail themselves of the option of presenting a State plan that provides comparable safeguards in operating their own mine safety program. That is our expectation.
Mr. McCLORY. Does the gentleman feel, then, that where a State does have a good State mine inspection agency and is applying the law and utilizing their departments, that the Federal Bureau of Mines will grant this exemption or will recognize the State prerogatives in that area?
Mr. O’HARA of Michigan. That is our intention. And I might say to the gentleman, in order to assure that, one of the amendments which the gentleman from Colorado has suggested and which we are going to ofier would provide for review in the circuit court of appeals of the Secretary of the Interior’s decision with respect to accepting or rejecting a State plan.
Mr. McCLORY. I feel that should be encouraging, if not entirely satisfactory, to this constituent. I thank the gentleman very much for his explanation.
Mr. FULTON of Pennsylvania. Chairman, will the gentleman yield?
Mr. O’HARA of Michigan. I yield to the gentleman.
Mr. FULTON of Pennsylvania. Is there not a factor in this question of accepting or rejecting an inadequate State plan, and that is, whether there is adequate safety; in other words, an examination of the current status of safety requirements and the results? That is, either injuries or deaths in the enforcement of those requirements? That would be the question as well, would it not?
Mr. O’HARA of Michigan. That is correct. In the initial application the question would be, Does the State plan provide adequately for health and safety enforcement? But we envision that the Secretary of the Interior, through the Bureau of Mines, will through scrutiny of the reports received from the States and through unscheduled spot inspections of conditions within the State, make an assessment of whether or not the State is continuing to carry out their plan and if they were to fail to carry out the plan, approval would be withdrawn.
Mr. FULTON of Pennsylvania. So that if the State has had a high accident rate in its own mines and has had cer
Mr. tain practices which are then codified into a plan, simply continuing the practices, it is assumed by this type policy we adopted that it will not be adequate?
Mr. O’HARA of Michigan. That is correct.
Mr. FULTON of Pennsylvania. Mr. Chairman, if the gentleman will yield further, so that we just do not continue the same old State practices and give them an opportunity to postpone enforcement by putting them into a codi
fied State plan?
Mr. O’HARA of Michigan. That is correct.
Mr. CLEVENGER. Mr. Chairman,
will the gentleman yield?
Mr. O’HARA of Michigan. I yield to the gentleman from Michigan, but before continuing the colloquy with the gentleman from Michigan, I might say that for many years we have worked toward getting this bill through. The gentleman from Michigan [Mr. CLEVENGER] came to the Congress this year and now we are making more progress than we have ever made heretofore. I do not believe that is a coincidence. I want to thank the gentleman for the inspiration and the work and the effort which he has put into the enactment of this bill. If we enact this bill, and I hope we will, a large part of the credit will be due to the eiforts of the gentleman from Michigan [Mr. CLEVENGER].
Mr. CLEVENGER. Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the remarks of my colleague. the gentleman from Michigan [Mr. O'HARA].
But, Mr. Chairman, I rise to commend the Member from the district of Michigan which is substantially without mines, but who has worked so long and hard to bring this legislation to the floor of the House.
Mr. Chairman, I am happy to be here to add such strength as I can. I am happy to have had an opportunity to introduce a bill in behalf of the miners of my district, because I come from the mining district of Michigan. However, I come from a district where we have many new mines where every conscientious effort is being made by the mine operators and owners to have such mines operated efficiently and safely.
Mr. Chairman, this is not going to affect substantially their operations. They will probably do more than is required by the bill. But I frankly want to say, Mr. Chairman, that we of northern Michigan are grateful to my colleague of the 12th District, the gentleman from Michigan [Mr. O'HARA].
Mr. Chairman, as for me, the opportunity to support adequate safety in our mines through HR. 8989 is a very rewarding, and long awaited, one for me. For years, I have seen our Michigan miners frustrated in their efforts to get much needed safety laws enacted.
Every 1 of the 22 counties in my upper Michigan district has people in it who will face less chance of injury or death if we enact this bill. Iron ore and copper mining, which are covered in this bill, are a major activity in my district.
Mining operations in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan employ approximately 10,000 men, who earn about 20 percent
of the region's total personal income. Our peninsula still holds some of the greatest iron ore and copper deposits in the world.
If we focus on my district, the need for this bill is obvious. For instance, in 1962, the Michigan Department of Labor, in its annual report, stated:
It is recommended that inclusive mine safety legislation be immediately enacted.
Our Michigan miners are still without this protection, as are those in the other States.
I can personally attest to the fact that many of the mine owners in my district make a conscientious effort to provide safe working conditions for their employees.
Accidents in Michigan mines in 1964 resulted in 4 deaths and 506 nonfatal injuries. This is an injury frequency rate of 13.42 per million man-hours. This is a good record. But is it good enough? As long as workingmen in upper Michigan face the possibility of unnecessary serious injury or death, it is not good enough for me.
The injury frequency rate in Michigan mines is nearly double that in Minnesota. To some degree, this is because we have more underground mining in Michigan.
Accident frequency rates in vocations other than mining are generally onequarter to one-third as high, and often considerably less.
There are nearly 300,000 persons Whose families will have more security and confidence that accidents will not bring grief to their home because of this bill. But even if this figure were half that, or less, I do not believe we could do other than enact this law to give them the protection we expect for ourselves and our families.
Mr. HATHAWAY. Mr. Chairman, will the gentleman yield?
Mr. O’HARA of Michigan. I yield to the gentleman from Maine.
Mr. HATHAWAY. Mr. Chairman, it is my understanding that under the ap— peals provision on page 7 under section 9(b) it is contemplated by the committee, is it not, that the deputy’s order would stay in effect unless the Secretary considered that it would cause irreparable injury, even though that is not so stated therein?
Mr. O’HARA of Michigan. correct.
Mr. HATHAWAY. I thank the gentleman from Michigan.
Mr. KING of Utah. Mr. Chairman, will the gentleman yield?
Mr. O’HARA of Michigan. the gentleman from Utah.
Mr. KING of Utah. Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of HR. 8989. This bill concerns safety: safety to those rugged men who enter our mines to bring out the gold and silver and lead and zinc and copper and other metals, without which we all would still be living in the stone age.
I suppose the day will never come when mining accidents vanish altogether. As long as we use giant ma— chines and explosives capable of chewing up, and spitting out incalculable quantitles of ore in just a few moments, the factor of human error will carry with
I yield to
it the possibility of accident. But those who expose themselves to these perils in order that we might enjoy our present way of life, should at least have the right to expect that unnecessary hazards to life and limb will be removed. To excuse the failure to take every reasonable precaution to prevent accident, on the ground that accidents are inevitable, is in my opinion the cruelest kind of sophistry.
It is one thing for men of management, seated in the executive offices of an operating mine, and concerned, as they understandably are, with reducing costs to meet competition, to reluctantly consider the necessity of installing expensive safety equipment. It is quite another thing to be a mine laborer, working hundreds of feet underground. facing the possibility of sudden and hideous death.
Put yourself in the position of having 10 million tons of dirt cave in on you, or of having a hundred-foot ladder collapse under your feet, or of seeing your companion blown to bits in a gas explosion, or of being needlessly exposed to cancer-producing radon gas in a uranium mine.
Considerations of humanity and decency require that we take all reasonable steps to avoid these tragedies. In my opinion, HR. 8989 is such a reasonable step.
In November of 1963 Secretary of Interior Udall reported to Congress on the results of a comprehensive study of the safety conditions existing in American mining operations. The study was conducted as a result of Congressional authorization granted in 1961. This report showed, among other things, that in 1962: First, 10,189 miners were hurt in injuries causing loss of time from work beyond the day of injury; second, 212 miners were killed on the job; third, 329 miners were permanently crippled; and fourth, on-the-job injuries resulted in more than 7,000 man-years lost from work. It might be added parenthetically, that more than twice as many mandays were lost from injuries as were lost from strikes. Fifth, the computed 1962 injury frequency rates—defined as the number of fatal and nonfatal lost-time injuries per million man-hours worked— ranged from 19.61 in surface mining operations to 44.11 in underground mining operations. This rate is extremely high, in comparison with the rate for industry as a whole.
Of particular interest to Utah, which is one of the Nation's leading uranium producers, was the fact that more than half of the U.S. underground uranium miners were exposed regularly to lung cancer hazard from radon gas. Miners numbering 1,264 were found breathing radon gas on the job in concentrations declared unsafe by the United States Public Health Service.
The aforesaid report showed rather clearly that 28 percent of the total number of miners employed were not covered by any safety legislation whatsoever. Moreover, in many States it was found that enforcement of what mine safety laws they did have on the books was almost nonexistent. Specifically, they found that out of a group of 544 mines examined, there were 4,080 violations of the State mine safety laws, with little or no attempt by the State enforcement agencies to enforce, or correct.
I am aware of the position taken by the American Mining Congress, namely that Federal regulation is unneeded, and that enforcement would be better undertaken on the State level.
I, too, believe that if all other things are equal, enforcement should be kept close to the people, and that State enforcement would be preferable to Federal enforcement. This is a statement of general principle with which I find no fault.
However, in the matter of mine safety, all other things are not equal. Because of the competitive nature of mining operations, it is extremely difllcult for one operator to maintain proper safety standards, as long as competitors refuse to do so. Competition, like water, seeks its own level. Conscientious men are often dragged down to the level of their most unscrupulous competitor.
Moreover, the individual States, viewed as integrated enforcement agencies, face the same difficulty. Inasmuch as each State is competing with its sister States to attract more business, it finds itself disadvantaged in enforcing safety regulations which might have a tendency to drive business away, or to discourage the establishment of new businesses.
I am convinced that the great majority of private operators are very anxious to establish fair safety standards for their men. Where there are negligent safety practices. I prefer to attribute them to the unfortunate consequencies of competitive pressures, than to the malevolence of any individual operator. I am convinced that mine operators, considered individually, will be far more agreeable to the establishment of Federal mine safety standards than one might otherwise deduce. The establishment of a fair, workable code of safety standards, would, in my opinion, be accepted by all mine operators who are humanely interested in preventing needless accidents, and this includes almost all of them.
To those who argue that mine safety standards should be formulated by the States themselves, for the reason that States are more familiar with local conditions. I further point out that under HR. 8989 the States have the choice of submitting an alternative safety plan to the Secretary of the Interior. If this plan meets the objective standards set forth in the bill, such plan will be accepted by the Secretary in lieu of the Federal plan.
Surely no reasonable person can seriously object to this procedure.
I urge the enactment of this bill. I have seen the tragedy resulting from the unnecessary cruelty of man to man. Even at best, suffering will necessarily be with us as long as there is life. But unnecessary suffering is something we can do something about, right here, and now, by enacting HR. 8989.
Mr. O'HARA of Michigan. Mr. Chairman, the gentleman from Utah has indeed made a valuable contribution to the enactment of this legislation. I do not
believe any Member of the House has been in touch with me more frequently regarding this bill and has shown more interest in it than the gentleman from Utah.
Mr. DENT. Mr. Chairman, will the gentleman yield?
Mr. O’HARA of Michigan. I yield to the gentleman from Pennsylvania.
Mr. DENT. Mr. Chairman, I would like to say at this time that I compliment the gentleman from Michigan because of the manner in which he has handled this legislation. He found the opposition to it, and in cooperation with the opposition he has been able to bring to the floor a piece of legislation which can go a long way toward being of benefit to those interested in both the management and the improvement of this particular mining industry.
Mr. Chairman, as the gentleman well knows, we in the coal communities have had a similar problem in trying to get national legislation on the books, and I want to say that without the efforts of the gentleman from Michigan [Mr. O'HARA] I am sure that it would have been quite a few more years before this legislation could have come before us.
Mr. Chairman, I rise to support H.R. 8989—the bill to promote health and safety in metal and nonmetallic mineral industries—introduced by the distinguished gentleman from Michigan [Mr. O'HARA], and advanced by the subcommittee over which he presided.
Mr. Chairman, this is a good bill; it is a sound bill, and a necessary bill. Speaking as one who has long fought for increased safety in coal mines, I am compelled to say that the arguments which prevailed for that legislation, apply equally in this case.
Mining is universally recognized as an exceptionally hazardous undertaking. Accordingly, the Congress has demonstrated a continuing concern with the mining industry. In 1910, it established the Bureau of Mines within the Department of the Interior. One of the Bureau’s principal responsibilities has been the promotion of improved mine health and safety conditions. The Bureau has worked to develop safer mining techniques and equipment, collected and analyzed accident reports, studied the dangers of excessive concentrations of dust and radiation in mines, provided an extensive program of safety education and training to mine supervisors and workers, and taken other appropriate steps to reduce the hazards of mining.
In 1941, the Congress enacted the Federal Coal Mines Safety Act, authorizing the Bureau of Mines to make annual or necessary inspections of coal and lignite mines, for the purpose of promoting improved health and safety conditions in these mines. This act required operators of coal and lignite mines to admit Federal inspectors to their properties and to provide the Bureau, upon request, with information concerning all mine accidents involving injury or death. It did not, however, empower the Bureau to enforce health and safety standards.
In 1952, in the wake of heavy loss of lives in several coal mine disasters, the
Federal Coal Mine Safety Act was amended to make a number of health and safety standards mandatory, and the Bureau of Mines was empowered to enforce these standards upon all coal and lignite mines regularly employing 15 or more persons underground.
Since 1952, Congress has repeatedly considered legislation to eliminate the exemption granted mines employing less than 15 persons underground. On June 1, 1965, by a vote of 335 to 43, the House passed HR. 3584, a bill which subjects these mines, other than strip mines, to the Bureau of Mines’ power to enforce the mandatory health and safety standards specified in the Federal Coal Mine Safety Act. This bill is now awaiting action in the Senate.
While the Congress has taken action to provide Federal enforcement of certain health and safety standards in coal and lignite mines, it has not so far enacted legislation extending such Federal protection to workers in other types of mines. Yet the hazards faced by workers in these mines are quite comparable to those encountered by coal miners— the chief exceptions being the lower incidence of danger, in noncoal mines, from methane gas explosions and the absence of danger from coal dust explosions.
Efforts directed toward wiping out the discrepancy between the Federal legislative attention given to the health and safety of coal miners and that given to other miners have continued for some years. In 1956, a specially appointed subcommittee of the Committee on Education and Labor held lengthy hearings on bills proposing to extend Federal inspection to mines other than coal mines. This subcommittee inspected mines and conducted field hearings in various mining areas of the Great Lakes and Mountain States, and developed a substantial record of vivid testimony from working miners portraying the dangers to which they are daily exposed. Hearings on similar bills were again held in 1961 by the Select Subcommittee on Labor of this committee. These hearings resulted in passage by the 87th Congress of Public Law 87-300, signed September 26, 1961.
Public Law 87-300 directed the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a study and report to the Congress upon health safety hazards in metal and nonmetallic mines—other than coal and lignite—the relative effectiveness of voluntary versus mandatory reporting of accident statistics; the relative contribution to safety of programs authorizing mine inspection only versus programs authorizing both inspection and enforcement; the effectiveness of health and safety education and training; the probable costs of an effective safety program for metal and nonmetallic mines; and the scope and adequacy of present State mine safety laws and the adequacy of their enforcement.
A special Mine Safety Study Board, appointed by the Secretary, conducted this study, and the Secretary transmitted its report, with recommendations, to the Congress on November 13, 1963. The study’s chief sources of information were mine inspections carried out by Bureau of Mines personnel in 1961-63, pursuant