Protecting miners from COVID-19 exposure

Published 2:56 am Friday, February 5, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, joined a bipartisan group of Senate colleagues on Monday in reintroducing the bicameral COVID-19 Mine Worker Protection Act.

The legislation, also sponsored by Sens. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, Mark Warner, D-Virginia, Shelley Moore Capito, R-West Virginia, Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, Tim Kaine, D-Virginia, Bob Casey, D-Pennsylvania, and U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Pennsylvania, would require the U.S. Department of Labor to issue an emergency temporary standard requiring mine operators to establish a plan to tackle occupational COVID-19 exposure and provide miners with the necessary personal protective equipment

Brown first introduced the legislation in May 2020.

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“Ohio miners have put their health at risk for years to power our country,” Brown said. “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.”

Manchin said miners are risking their lives every day during the pandemic.

“The bipartisan, bicameral COVID-19 Mine Worker Protection Act will instruct DOL to create safeguards and provide PPE to ensure our miners are protected from exposure to COVID-19 in the mines,” he said. “I will continue to work with my bipartisan colleagues, DOL and the United Mine Workers of America to pass this commonsense legislation to help our miners stay safe during the pandemic as they continue to provide Americans with the power we need every day.”

Manchin’s fellow West Virginia senator, Republican Capito, echoed this sentiment.

“For centuries, our miners have worked tirelessly to power America and keep the lights on,” she said. “It is vital that we take the necessary steps to provide them safety and job security as we continue to battle COVID-19.”