Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet
Governor Fletcher calls for substance and alcohol testing for miners
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Dec. 14, 2005) – Governor Ernie Fletcher today said his administration favors legislation that would require drug and alcohol testing of Kentucky miners based on recommendations from a task force studying the issue. The 15-member group issued its final report today.
The Mine Substance Abuse Task Force included representatives of the state mine safety agencies of Kentucky, West Virginia and Virginia, the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), health and safety professionals representing large and small coal companies, the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, the insurance industry and labor.
Governor Fletcher said his administration continues to support improvements to worker safety in the Commonwealth.
“We will seek to work with members of the General Assembly to determine the feasibility of enacting legislation to address recommendations in the report,” Fletcher said. “Mining is a dangerous occupation and miners deserve the right to work in as safe an environment as possible.”
The report provides recommendations in six major areas including education and awareness training, employee assistance programs, employer incentive programs, substance abuse testing, state certification programs and contract employees at mines. In addition to substance and alcohol testing, the recommendations include:
- Initial alcohol and substance abuse education and training for new and experienced miners;
- Development of voluntary employee assistance programs to serve the needs of employees and their families which address a wide range of issues, including drug and alcohol abuse;
- Development of incentives for coal companies to encourage their voluntary participation in a comprehensive alcohol and substance abuse program;
- Requiring individuals to demonstrate, by submitting to a drug test, that they are drug- and alcohol-free prior to receiving initial miner certification. Violation of drug-free status could result in possible probation, suspension or revocation of certification;
- Authority for states to conduct post-accident drug testing.
These recommendations address state and federal regulatory agencies, as well as the mining industry, in a multi-pronged approach to eliminating substance abuse.
“The report contains excellent recommendations and we are evaluating these ideas to determine what legislative and regulatory changes need to be made to implement these proposals,” said LaJuana S. Wilcher, secretary of the Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet.
The task force was charged with gathering and evaluating information on substance abuse and its impact on the health and safety of miners. The task force heard from experts on substance abuse – in mines and elsewhere – from March to November.
The issue was first addressed in December 2004 during a summit in Hazard, "Keeping America's Mines Drug and Alcohol Free.”
Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia and MSHA hosted the summit, at which more than 200 participants provided anecdotal and statistical information and offered general recommendations. The task force is utilizing the recommendations of the summit as it studies the issue in more depth.
The Mine Substance Abuse Task Force Report can be found at http://www.naturalresources.ky.gov.