(WSIL) -- The United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) wants to increase protections for miners who are working during the coronavirus pandemic.
On Wednesday, UMWA President Cecil Roberts sent a letter to the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) calling for the organization to issue a "safeguard," or emergency standard, in relation to COVID-19.
“While these are certainly difficult times for all workers, it is especially challenging for workers who are unable to work from home and have valid concerns about their health and safety and that of their loved ones,” Roberts said in the letter. “Our miners work in close proximity to one another from the time they arrive at the mine site. They get dressed, travel down the elevator together, ride in the same man trip, work in confined spaces, breathe the same air, operate the same equipment, and use the same shower facilities.”
Roberts said the coronavirus outbreak is of special concern for miners who have black lung disease and who often live in rural areas with limited access to health care centers.
"The UMWA stands ready to work with MSHA, the mining industry, and our members to find ways to protect miners in these unprecedented times. Miners are a resilient people and have overcome many challenges throughout time. This will be yet another situation where we will overcome, protecting our miners, their families, their communities, and allow them to continue to provide these valuable resources when our nation needs them most.”
Read the full letter here.