David A. Zegeer, P.E.

Mine Safety and Health Administration, U.S. Dept. of Labor

Assistant Secretary of Labor, November 1983-January 1987

As Assistant Secretary for MSHA, directed the federal agency responsible for ensuring that nearly one-half million workers at more than 18,000 U.S. mines and mineral processing plants were protected from hazards to their safety and health.

Bethlehem Mines Corporation Jenkins, Kentucky

Manager and Division Superintendent, 1956-1977 (Retired)

As head of the division, was responsible for four deep mines and four preparation plants employing 1400 people.  Notable accomplishments during this period were the introduction of the first longwalI system in Kentucky, the introduction of one of the first shortwall systems, introduction of the Lee-Norse continuous miner, and the use of 30-ton mine cars.  The division produced an average of 16,000 tons per day, and during this period, the division's accident rate declined from about 12 accidents per million employee-hours to less than one.

Consolidation Coal Company, Jenkins, Kentucky, 1946-1956

After two years in the U.S. Army Engineers, joined the company as a surveyor.   During the next ten years, worked successively as rodman, transitman, draftsman, mining engineer, project engineer, section foreman, assistant superintendent, and assistant to the president.  Consolidation's holdings were sold to Bethlehem Steel in 1956 and control of the division was transferred as division superintendent.


David A. Zegeer, a Charleston native and alumnus of the West Virginia University School of Mines (now COMER), continues to enjoy a fruitful career in the coal industry.  His concern for safety and for the overall improvement of coal mining in this country has transcended his varied career as head of the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), as a consultant, as a mining engineer and division manager, and as an educator and historian.

Mr. Zegeer received his bachelor's degree in Mining Engineering in 1944.  After two years in the U.S. Army Engineers, he joined Consolidation Coal Company in Jenkins, Kentucky.  The mines were sold to Bethlehem Steel in 1956, and he became division superintendent.  He retired as manager of Beth-Elkhorn Corporation in 1977.

After his retirement from active mining, Mr. Zegeer undertook several important tasks in the promotion of safety for coal miners.  He served on the National Academy of Sciences' Committee on Underground Coal Mine Safety and helped author the report of the committee, issued in 1982, entitled, "Toward Safer Underground Coal Mines."   Mr. Zegeer was one of twelve experts in the field of mine safety who spent two years compiling the report.

During his 30-year career with Bethlehem Mines and Consolidation Coal, he was active in various state and national coal associations in their programs to promote mine safety and health.  He received recognition from his peers and many awards including the Donald S.  Kingery Award in 1976 which is presented by MSHA to a member of the coal industry for outstanding achievements in safety and health.

His other awards include the Erskine Ramsay Gold Medal (1976) from AIME, the Distinguished Engineer Award (1976) from the Society of Mining Engineers, the Professional Award for Coal Mine Health, Safety and Research (1982) from VPI&SU, the Percy Nicholls Award (1986) from Al ME, and the Howard N. Eavenson Award (1988) from SME.  Mr. Zegeer was awarded Honorary Membership by the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers in 1988.

The coal industry in West Virginia has benefited from his work in mine safety and from his life-long involvement in the coal industry.  Coal and coal miners in West Virginia were the direct beneficiaries during his tenure as Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health.

David A. Zegeer was confirmed as Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health on November 18, 1983.  Former Senator Jennings Randolph of West Virginia was acting chairman of his confirmation hearing in the U.S. Senate.  As Assistant Secretary, he directed the federal agency responsible for ensuring that nearly one-half million workers at more than 18,000 mines and mineral processing plants were protected from hazards to their safety and health.  Assistant Secretary Zegeer served in this capacity for three years under two different Secretaries of Labor in the Reagan Administration before retiring on January 16, 1987, to return to private consulting.

His tenure at MSHA coincided with a period of remarkable progress in safety for the U.S. mining community.  In three of the years of his appointment, there were fewer than 100 deaths in coal mining. This was the first time in history that the number of fatalities had ever decreased to those levels.  In metal and non-metal mining, the number of deaths fell below 100 in the five-year period, also an historic low.

The direction of MSHA's programs during Assistant Secretary Zegeer's tenure reflected his personal safety philosophy of the "Three E's --Enforcement, Engineering, and Education.'

It was in the area of education that West Virginia received the most benefit.   Assistant Secretary Zegeer sought to ensure that the agency's National Mine Health and Safety Academy located in Beckley was used to its full potential.  As part of this effort, the Academy began offering the widely praised Mine Emergency Responsiveness Development seminars--designed originally for MSHA district and sub district managers--to people in the mining industry and labor organizations.

Assistant Secretary Zegeer also strengthened the MSHA testing facility outside Wheeling and advanced its mission of testing and certification for mining equipment used throughout the country.

Among the many programs he championed during his time as head of MSHA were the U.S. Labor Department's first program dealing specifically with substance abuse in the workplace; specialized training courses on safety for mine supervisors, coal mine ventilation, and roof falls; and a special slide program depicting each fatal mining accident in the last several years.

In other areas, Mr. Zegeer serves the interests of West Virginians as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Appalachian Regional Hospitals.  He rejoined the board in 1987 after serving as a trustee from 1964 to 1983, including a term as chairman from 1976 to 1978.  The hospitals are located in Beckley, Man, Hinton, and Grafton.  ARH also has clinics at Delbarton and Matewan.

While a private consultant, before and after his tenure at MSHA, Mr. Zegeer worked for numerous West Virginia clients including Carbon Fuels, The Pittston Company, Island Creek Coal, Allied Chemical, A.T. Massey, Fairchild International, Ranger Fuel, and Continental Resources.

To his impressive resume, he recently added the title of historian.  In conjunction with another long time resident of Jenkins, Kentucky, Mr. Zegeer compiled a videotape of the history of Jenkins.

The documentary, entitled "Birth of a Mining Town, Jenkins, Ky.," is based on 145 old photographs taken during the years of 1911 through the early 1930s.  Mr. Zegeer and Marshall Prunty, president of Roberts and Schaeffer Co., researched the town's history through various publications and interviews with some of the oldest residents.

Copies of the historical video are sold to benefit The Jenkins Heritage Foundation, a non-profit corporation.



BSEM, West Virginia University School of Mines, 1944

Advanced Orientation Course, Harvard University, 1976.



"The Significance of Engineering," Mine Planning and Design Conference, May 24, 1989.

"The Birth of a Coal Mining Town, Jenkins, KY," Video documentary, Co-producer, Jenkins Heritage Foundation, Dec.1988.

"Some Reflections about MSHA as a Past Director," Kentucky Coal Association, Oct. 9, 1987.

Distinguished Lecture Series, COMER, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, Sept.1986.

"Capsule for Controlling Coal Costs," Kentucky Coal Association, Oct. 22, 1982.

"Trends to Modernize Coal Mining," American Institute of Chemical Engineers, Nov. 15, 1977.

"My Advice to the Newly Hired Engineer," Mining Engineering June-Aug. 1977 (reprinted - Mead Coal Co. Recruitment Brochure).

"Donald Kingery Lecture" Pittsburgh Coal Mining Institute of America, Nov. 1976

Elements Of Practical Coal Mining, Textbook Co-editor, 1973, 1981.

"Pillaring with a Colmol," Engineers' Society of Western Pennsylvania, Oct 1956

"Man Trips and Supply Hauling," Mining Congress Journal. Oct. 1954.

"Determination of Proper Mine Car Capacity," AMC Committee on Rail Haulage, Aug.1954.

"Supplemental Mining with Highwall Augers," AMC Coal Convention, May 1954. CoaI Mine Modernization, 1954.

"Safety Standards for Underground Belts in Coal Mines," Kentucky Mining Institute, Nov.1951.

"Sinking a Shaft by Core Drilling," Coal Age, Feb. 1950.

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