National Mine Health and Safety Academy Celebrates 40th Anniversary

Forty years ago, the National Mine Health and Safety Academy was created to help reduce accidents and improve health conditions in the mining industry through education and training.

To fulfill this mission, the Academy conducts a variety of education and training programs in health and safety and related subjects for Federal mine inspectors and other government mining and industry personnel.

In a five-year period from 1906-1911, 13,228 miners were killed in U.S. coal mines. As a result, the Bureau of Mines was established by Congress on July 1, 1910, “to make diligent investigation of the methods of mining, especially in relation to the safety of miners and the appliances best adapted to prevent accidents.”

Over the years, Congress passed other legislation designed to promote health and safety in the mines, including the 1966 Federal Metal and Nonmetallic Mine Safety Act (P.L. 89-577) and the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969 (P.L. 91-173). The most recent regulatory legislation combined the coal and metal and nonmetal industries under one law–the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977. This act directed that “The National Mine Health and Safety Academy shall be…responsible for the training of mine safety and health inspectors, mining personnel, or other persons as the Secretaries of Labor and Interior shall designate. In performing this function, the Academy shall have the authority to enter into cooperative educational and training agreements with educational institutions, State governments, labor organizations, and mine operators and related industries.” It is through the training provisions of this legislation that the National Mine Health and Safety Academy functions.

In response to the mandates of the Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969, on September 7, 1971, the Academy began inspector training in temporary facilities in Beckley, West Virginia. On August 17, 1976, the permanent facility, situated on 76 acres of land donated by the Raleigh County Airport Authority, opened its doors with an official dedication.

On July 25, 1979, Public Law 96-38 transferred the activities and functions of the National Mine Health and Safety Academy from the Department of the Interior to the Department of Labor.

18 miners have died this year: 7 in the coal sector, and 11 in metal/non-metal.