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Brown, colleagues introduce bipartisan bill to protect miners from COVID-19 exposure

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, joined Sens. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, Tim Kaine, D-Virginia, Bob Casey, D-Pennsylvania, Shelley Moore Capito, R-West Virginia, and Mark Warner, D-Virginia to introduce the COVID-19 Mine Worker Protection Act, which would require the Mine Safety & Health Administration (MSHA) to issue an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) within seven days of enactment to protect our miners from COVID-19 exposure at the mines.

Additionally, the bill would forbid mine operators from retaliating against miners for reporting infection control problems to their employer or any public authority.

“Ohio miners have put their health at risk for years to power our country,” Brown said in a news release. “And now they’re facing more danger, as working conditions put them at higher risk of contracting COVID-19. MSHA needs to issue an enforceable safety standard to protect these miners from infectious disease, and we need to ensure these workers have the personal protective equipment they need to prevent exposure.”

The COVID-19 Mine Worker Protection Act would require MSHA to issue an Emergency Temporary Standard, based on CDC, NIOSH, and OSHA guidance, within 7 days of enactment to protect our miners from COVID-19 exposure at the mines. The COVID-19 Mine Worker Protection Act would also:
• Require mine operators to provide personal protective equipment to miners;
• Require MSHA to issue a permanent comprehensive infectious disease standard within two years;
• Require MSHA to forbid employers from retaliating against miners for reporting infection control problems to their employer, or to local, State, or Federal government agencies; and,
• Require MSHA, in coordination with CDC and NIOSH, to track, analyze, and investigate mine-related COVID-19 infections data in order make recommendations and guidance to protect miners from the virus.