The Mine Safety and Health Administration is stepping up enforcement efforts after multiple incidents claimed the lives of three miners -- including a Virginia man -- in just one day.
Workers were killed on Monday in Northern Virginia, Nevada and South Dakota. Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health Joseph A. Main expressed his concern over the alarming number of recent deaths in a statement issued Wednesday.
"In the past month alone, there have been five fatalities in the metal and nonmetal industry. Not since 2002 have three miners died in a single day in this mining sector," he said.
Daniel Potter, 18, of Front Royal, Va., was killed after a silo at a quarry in Loudoun County collapsed early Monday, burying him under tons of sand and stone dust.
In response, the MHA said in a release, the agency of the U.S. Department of Labor will intensify its outreach and education efforts worldwide. Main announced that beginning next week, the agency will begin beefed-up inspections, with a focus on violations commonly associated with mining deaths.
Federal inspectors will conduct "walk and talks" to educate miners and operators about fatalities and prevention methods.
"We will need everyone's cooperation with these efforts to reverse the trend in mining deaths" Main said. "Our miners deserve nothing less."
Plant managers and Loudoun County Fire & Rescue said they do not know what caused the silo to collapse. MSHA will investigate and issue a report. That investigation could take several months, they said.
Main also expressed condolences to the victims' families.
"We cannot -- we will not -- accept this turn of events. We extend our deepest sympathies to the families of the miners who died in these tragic accidents," he said.