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Mr. OZONISH. Take care of them first.
Mr. Ozonish. Not much.
Mr. FEDER. We certainly appreciate this, and you will be hearing from the committee. We expect that you will continue to communicate with the committee as to what you think needs to be done.
Mr. DE VINCE. You know, if you have laws you should make some attempt to try to get them enforced.
Senator WILLIAMS. Gentlemen. Thank you. I want to say how much we appreciate your taking the time to be here. This hearing means a great deal. We learned a lot and that means a lot to us.
(Whereupon, at 11 a.m., the subcommittee adjourned, subject to the call of the Chair.)
HEALTH AND SAFETY IN THE COAL MINES
THURSDAY, AUGUST 6, 1970
Washington, D.C. The subcommittee met at 9:30 a.m., pursuant to notice, in room 4232, New Senate Office Building, Senator Harrison A. Williams, Jr. (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Present: Senators Williams of New Jersey, Randolph, Pell, Prouty, and Schweiker.
Committee staff present: Frederick R. Blackwell, counsel; Gerald M. Feder, associate counsel; Donald Elisburg, associate counsel; Salvatore Arrigo, special counsel; Eugene Mittelman, counsel; and Peter Benedict, minority labor counsel.
Senator WILLIAMS. The subcommittee hearing will come to order.
Last year, the Congress passed a law recognized by everyone as the most far-reaching coal mine health and safety law in the Nation's history, and yet, there have been as many fatalities in the Nation's underground coal mines in the first 6 months of this year as there were during the same period of 1969.
It is no wonder that miners I have talked to believe that the safety and health conditions today under the new, improved law are worse than they were under the old law. They have demonstrated their despair by walkouts.
I have called these hearings to bring together before the Congress as clear and comprehensive a picture of the situation as possible. We will hear from witnesses representing all parties concerned. We will hear from the critics of the administration as well as the administration itself.
The record of the Bureau of Mines is outrageous. During 1968, the Bureau of Mines conducted 9,000 regular inspections. Since the new law went into effect, the Bureau has been conducting substantially fewer safety inspections than in 1968. In the past 4 months, the Bureau has conducted only 153 regular inspections, an annual rate of less than 450 regular inspections per year. In my judgment, this is just plain unbelievable.
Even if we include the so-called partial but representative inspections now being conducted by the Bureau and the spot inspections, we have 2,000 fewer inspections this year than in 1968.
This decrease in the number of inspections is all the more shocking in light of the fact that the Congress backed up its far-reaching health and safety law by almost quadrupling funds for inspections from $9 million for the year beginning on July 1, 1968, to $33 million for the year which began last month.
It is no wonder that a TV commentator, in speaking of the farreaching nature of the Health and Safety Act, was forced comment sadly :
"Someday it may even be enforced.”'
These statistics do not tell the whole story by any means. Most importantly, they do not tell the story of human misery and suffering brought on by unsafe and unhealthy conditions. For example, at this subcommittee's hearings in Charleston, W. Va., last week, we heard from:
A miner, who, for 20 years, burrowed under the ground until one day his body was smashed by a machine, underground. His legs were severed right up to the trunk.
Another miner who, after 16 years in the mines, had to have psychiatric care. Not only did he suffer a severe head injury in the mines, but his lungs have been severely damaged.
Another miner who, after 16 years in the mines, can only breathe with the aid of a breathing apparatus. His condition is so bad that he was almost prevented from continuing his testimony as he sat before us in that hearing last week in Charleston, W. Va. This was due to his inability to breathe.
These men are representative of countless thousands of coal miners. I do not want to present myself as a prophet of gloom and tragedy. But someday there will be another Farmington, another disaster in the mines which will set up a hue and cry for more protection, for more help for the families and the brave men who mine our coal which generates 50 percent of our electricity and makes possible for us the necessities, comforts, and luxuries for our everyday life.
We owe these people something more than our thanks. We owe them more than our concern. We owe them more than our attention. We owe them prompt and effective enforcement of their health and safety law.
In this regard, I would like to disgress for a moment to comment about some of the other work of this subcommittee that bears directly on the problems we are examining today.
Almost 2 years ago, 78 coal miners were buried alive in a coal mine disaster. Ever since that day, the news media–the press, radio, and television-have never let the public or the Congress forget the desperate needs of the Nation's coal miners.
Just this week, NBC ran a 20-minute commentary on coal mine health and safety in prime time. The same night, a CBS affiliate began a series of news reports on coal mine health and safety. And some members of the working press have followed this story day in and day out for almost 2 years.
This public attention, in my judgment, has been a primary factor in the enactment of the most comprehensive coal mine health and safety law in our Nation's history.
But there is another heart rending and compelling story unfolding in the Halls of Congress that somehow hasn't generated the same romance as coal mine safety and similar problems.
Do we all realize, as we sit here now, that 38 men and women died in the past 24 hours in on-the-job accidents in American industry? Do we realize that every day, 7 days in a week, 38 men and women die on the job? This is a disaster every day of the week. This amounts to over 14,000—-an unbelievable total of 14,000-on-the-job deaths each year-over 2 million serious injuries on the job each year. This is more deaths than we suffered this past year in Vietnam, and six times as many casualties as we have suffered in Vietnam in the past decade.
This is a national scandal of the worst order. But where are the news media? Where is the shouting in the Halls of the Congress? Do we need a major industrial catastrophe before we can shake loose an occupational safety and health bill covering all of America's 70 million working men and women?
We have a legislative battle in progress both in the House and the Senate over the kind of occupational health and safety bill that should be passed.
But we must accept the challenge with urgency-we must reconcile the differences to get the strongest bill possible through the Congress, and it can be done this year. This subcommittee's construction safety bill and coal mine safety bill, of course, have already been enacted. We cannot leave the rest of the Nation's working people behind, and I surely hope the public awakens to this tremendous task so that we can provide an adequate bill this session.
Now we turn to our hearings this morning on the question of the enforcement of the Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969. We have time limitations, and this is the procedure I propose: We have three groups of witnesses. We will start with a time limitation of 1 hour for each of the groups. If for any reason, the witnesses require more time, I believe that we will be able to get unanimous consent to return this afternoon if that should be necessary. We are beginning at a quarter to 10 with Mr. Boyle first and the few witnesses with Mr. Boyle, and their time will run to quarter to 11.
Senator Pronty. Senator PROUTY. I merely wish to stress my agreement with your statement as to the importance of enacting an occupational health and safety bill this year. I believe the time has come when we must have protection for those who are working in industry throughout the entire country. I am in full agreement with your statement.
Senator WILLIAMS. Personally, as chairman of the subcommittee, I am most grateful for that agreement, Senator Prouty, and I believe there will be another opportunity early next week to consider the general occupational health and safety law.
We will begin now, and I would like to say that in the coal mine health and safety bill, we have woven in many rights created for the workers, and these rights that were extended directly to the workers deal with their cooperation in the effective enforcement of the coal mine health and safety law, and therefore it is fitting, of course, that the union president, År. Boyle, be our first witness.
Mr. Boyle, proceed with your statement now.