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Nationwide Mine Contest held in Missouri Next Week
>>AMY SUSAN: Hi. I'm Amy Susan, Director of Communications for the Missouri Department of Labor. On this week's edition of Labor Talk, a podcast where experts discuss workplace issues that affect your life, I'm joined here with the manager of the Mine and Cave Safety unit, Les Thomas. And we're here to talk about the program, as well as the longest running underground mining competition in the country that is going to take place here in Missouri next week. Les, welcome to the show.
>>LES THOMAS: Thanks for having me.
>>SUSAN: First, can you tell us what you do for the department, and how long you've been here?
>>THOMAS: Absolutely. I took over as Program Manager back in May. I've got about eighteen years in the industry, so I think I have a lot to offer.
>>SUSAN: Great, so you've been here for a long time, and you have some notches on your belt. You've been traing as well, correct?
>>SUSAN: Okay, great. What does the mine and cave safety do for Missourians?
>>THOMAS: Well according to the Mine Act of 1997, the federal government mandates that mine operators, miners, mine owners, contractors, and anybody involved in mining has to receive a certain amount of training and education. We offer those services to those folks.
>>SUSAN: And what type of training do you provide? I understand there's CPR, as well as other extensive formats of traning. Can you explain some of that to us?
>>THOMAS: Absolutely. We offer new miner, annual refresher along with the first aid, CPR, artificial respiration, and other health services for sylicosis and noise.
>>SUSAN: And, how many mines and caves are in the state of Missouri? Because as I know it we are-are we the mine, cave-mine state? Or are we the cave state? Or both?
>>THOMAS: We are both. Actually, the state of Missouri is known as the cave state. We have well over six-thousand caves in Missouri; nineteen of which are open to the public. We have around three-hundred-eighteen mining properties in Missouri; eighteen of which are underground properties.
>>SUSAN: Wow, and you have to inspect all those? Or how does that work?
>>THOMAS: The inspection is another service we offer with the program. A consultation as well, under Missouri Statute we do inspect these caves and mines; the caves for public safety, the mines sort of as a complimentary program to keep them from receiving fines, maybe from the federal government.
>>SUSAN: Okay. So, yet again, all caves in the state of Missouri, that individuals go, families go to on the weekend or during the week to enjoy, you or your team have inspected those.
>>THOMAS: That's right. We inspect them twice a year. We inspect them before they can open to the public, where we'll check anything from the stairs the public would walk on, the handrails that they hold on to make sure everything's safe for the public.
>>SUSAN: What type of mineral do Missouri mines produce?
>>THOMAS: Missouri mines produce lead, copper, zinc, silver, along with clay, some mitunimous coal, along with some other miner commodities.
>>SUSAN: Okay. Tell us about the event that is going to take place next week, here in Missouri.
>>THOMAS: Absolutely. The 28th annual Missouri Mine Rescue Association holds a contest in Missouri, it's the longest running underground mining contest in the U.S. Where we present hazards and scenarios to mine and rescue teams and then we require them to find a solution to the problems we present.
>>SUSAN: Are these teams all from Missouri or do they come from around the country?
>>THOMAS: They come from all over the United States. We have, I believe, eight teams from Missouri, representing Missouri. One of which are the National Mine Resuce Champions.
>>SUSAN: So what is the department's involvement in next week's event here in Missouri?
>>THOMAS: Well, the contest takes place over a three day period. Where we present written examinations and underground competition portion and then a first aid competition portion, that the state of Missouri, this year will be-will be presenting in a form of the written test and a live scenario. Then we judge the teams based on how well they do in the competition.
>>SUSAN: What does the live scenario entail? And how long do you give them to complete that mission, per se?
>>THOMAS: Well the live scenario, instead of as to opposed to using dummies or-we use live victims and we present a problem to them, and we judge them on how well they treat their victim, and then transport that victim.
>>SUSAN: So, Les, can you tell us how many on average every year injuries occur on these sites? Or deaths that occur in mines or caves?
>>THOMAS: Yeah, absolutely. We lose about 2 miners a year here in Mssouri. Nationwide, we started in the thousands in the early 50s-early 40s and 50s. Since then have made great strides in that area, which is our goal, Amy, to reduce fatalites, period. This year, 2010, we've lost fourteen. And I hope this stays-this could be a record low number of fatalities, so far.
>>SUSAN: And that's for the entire country?
>>THOMAS: That's for the U.S., yeah.
>>SUSAN: And how 'bout-how many injuries have occured here in Missouri on-Missouri-or in Missouri mines?
>>THOMAS: Literally, there's thousands of injuries. Some significant, some insignificant. Reportable accidents that we would call stitches, broken bones, things that would require surgery or medical attention. And there's near incidents we call where there may have been an incident that caused minor injuries, but it is-it's within the thousands.
>>SUSAN: Tell us about this new safety hotline that you guys will soon be promoting.
>>THOMAS: Yea, we're going to offer a new hotline to help us better serve the mine operators, mine owners. If there happens to be an incident or a disaster, they would be able to reach us at 573-52MINE1. Any questions about training, the type of traning, or the scheduling for training, they can also call the number, or they can look us up on the web: www.labor.mo.gov.
>>SUSAN: Alright, thank you for joining us on the show. We appreciate all the information you presented us today. If you guys have any other questions or concerns, please submit your questions by visiting www.labor.mo.gov, click on News and Notices, then click on Labor Talk Podcast.