Safety and Training
Safety and health standards are highly regulated by the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) and the Kentucky Office of Mine Safety & Licensing (KOMSL).
All surface and underground mines are inspected regularly. Larger mines may have inspectors at the mine site every day.
Training for Surface Miners
New miners must have 24 hours of training and pass a written exam before being eligible for employment at a surface mine. Workers at prep plants, rail sidings, and river terminals must also meet those training requirements. The inexperienced miner must work a minimum of 45 days at a surface mine before becoming a certified experienced miner. After the initial training, each surface mine employee is required to receive 8 hours of annual retraining.
To obtain a Surface Mine Foreman Certification, a miner must have 3 years of surface mining experience achieved after age 18. To obtain certification, a surface mine foreman must specialize in either coal extraction or post mining activities (coal preparation or coal handling). The applicant must have at least one year of practical experience in the specialty category.
To become a blaster in a surface coal mine, the applicant must attend 30 hours of training and pass both a licensing test and a certification test. Two years of additional work experience under a licensed blaster is also required.
Training for Underground Miners
New miners are required to have a minimum of 40 hours of training plus pass a written exam prior to starting work as an inexperienced miner.
An inexperienced miner must work a minimum of 45 days in an underground mine before becoming a certified experienced miner.
A minimum of 16 hours of annual retraining is required to maintain the miner certification and continue to work at an underground mine.
A newly hired miner (experienced or inexperienced) also must receive up to 8 hours of mine site-specific training.