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Workplace Safety and Health News Alert

Mining Industry Deemed Essential Critical Workforce

March 31, 2020

By: Karl F. Kumli

On Sunday March 29, 2020 the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) issued guidance on which workers that the Department considers part of the “Essential Critical Workforce” during the coronavirus. This list includes eighteen different areas of the workforce that the Department considers critical. These areas include:

  • Healthcare
  • Public Safety and First Responders
  • Food and Agriculture
  • Energy
  • Water and Wastewater
  • Transportation and Logistics
  • Public Works and Infrastructure
  • Communications and Information Technology
  • Government Functions
  • Critical Manufacturing
  • Hazardous Material Management 
  • Financial Services 
  • Chemical Industry 
  • Defense Industry 
  • Commercial Facilities
  • Residential and Shelter Services
  • Hygiene Products

 

Critically, for the mining industry, workers necessary for the mining and production of critical minerals, materials, and associated essential supply chains are considered to be a part of critical manufacturing for the department. DHS makes it clear at the outset of this release that the list is not issued as federal policy but rather as guidance for State, Local, Tribal and other governments in determining what industries and workers should be exempted from any mandatory shelter-in-place or similar orders. 

Even though the list is not given the force and effect of law, the fact that the list is produced by DHS, the civilian department most directly responsible for national security, the list will likely carry greater weight than suggestions from other agencies might. Members of the mining industry would be well served to remind local officials that the products produced by the mining industry support nearly every aspect of manufacturing and infrastructure on some level. That interruption of the mining industry feeds up into interruptions of much of American manufacturing, at a time when domestic manufacturing is more critical than it has been in decades. The Department of Homeland Security is right to recognize that importance.  
 

 

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