When it comes to mining uranium there have been a number of large strides to make sure that uranium mining in the United States is as safe as possible. The biggest push for miners safety in uranium mines as well as any other kind of mine in the United States is the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977. This legislation was one of the biggest pushes to make sure that the mining industry finally became safe for its workers after decades upon decades of terrible conditions and a shockingly high death and injury rate. The U.S. Department of Labor was then given the authority by the Federal Mine Safety and Health act to issue and enforce health and safety standards for underground and surface mining, milling, and other similar operations.
The measures put forward by the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act have made an enormous difference in the dangers that were often faced by uranium miners. One of the most effective changes was to start monitoring the radon levels inside the mine and take steps in order to bring in as much fresh air as possible. In all mines but particularly in underground uranium mines, the air must be sampled at least every two weeks in all of the places of the mine that people often congregate such as the break rooms or lunch rooms. If at any point the radon levels are too high in the uranium mine, measures are taken to return the air to a healthy level without traces of radon and then the air is tested weekly until levels are shown to be better. To resume back to normal every other week testing, the mine must have acceptable levels for five weeks in a row. While radon checks are done in every mine, they are done significantly more often in uranium mines than in other kinds of mines.
Another step that helped greatly with the health and safety of uranium miners was in 2009 when the National Mining Association, and Northwest Mining Association and Uranium Producers of America entered into an agreement with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to collaborate and identify research needed to improve health, safety and training for the next generation of uranium miners and those in the uranium industry.
With these steps along with a few other measures that the Federal Mine Safety and Health and Safety Administration, death and illness in uranium miners have dropped significantly. All of the time now we are learning how to make the work safer for the men and women who are willing to go underground to get the uranium that we want to forward our goals as a country. Hopefully the future will continue to bring new innovations that continue to make the workplace safer for miners or every sort and in every industry. It does not look like uranium mining is going to stop any time soon so we should at least be taking care of the workers who take care of these things for us.