Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Dept. of Labor- Mine Safety and Health Administration

By Ahsaki Anokye

This summer, I worked at the Department of Labor, Office of the Solicitor, Division of Mine Safety and Health Administration. I did many different research projects. There was one case in particular that I believed was very noteworthy. When a manager at a mine is responsible for a particular egregious and dangerous offense, the government may bring individual civil penalties against that individual. These are called 110(c) cases. One such case arose out of an anonymous complaint that employees were being directed to climb on an energized conveyor belt, thereby putting them at risk of a slip and fall onto moving equipment. I put a lot of time researching relevant case law that would support my belief that individual civil penalties should be brought against the agent.

Through EJF, social justice was furthered based in the fact that much of our country is powered on the production of coal. That individuals work tirelessly everyday to provide a living for their families and also energy for the entire country, is very valuable. However, the coal mining industry is very dangerous. The risks associated with going underground are great in that at any time the small tunnels that mine workers enter could collapse and kill many workers. That air quality is severely impaired places workers at risk for suffocation. That coal in itself is extremely flammable, places individuals at risk for explosion and fire. Black Lung Disease is also extremely common among mine workers and can permanently and chronically disable anyone afflicted. The Mine Safety and Health Administration is responsible for ensuring that the safety standards set forth in the Mine Safety and Health Act are followed closely. In my time at the Department of Labor, I contributed to those initiatives. I am proud that I did America and the mine workers of America a social justice by protecting the safety and health of one of America’s most precious workers: the mine worker. I believe that regulating the mine industry through governmental administrative agencies is very effective. There is too much money to be made if mine owners break a few rules and cut a few corners. It is my belief that without the strict governmental intervention, many more mine workers would die in the pursuit increased profits. Had it not been for the EJF scholarship, I wouldn’t have been able to pursue this non-paid internship. Because of the EJF scholarship, not only was I able to realize the social implications of this job, but hopefully I was able to help make mining a bit safer. For this, I am extremely grateful.

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