Joseph A. “Joe” Main was nominated by President Barack Obama as Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health (MSHA). He was confirmed by the Senate on October 21, 2009. Main is an internationally-recognized expert in mine health and safety issues. For more than 40 years, he has worked to improve every aspect of miner health and safety, both in the United States and internationally.
Main is a native of Greene County, Pa. He began working at coal mines in 1967 and quickly became an advocate for miner’s safety and health. He was hired by the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) in 1974 to be an assistant to the international president. In 1976, he joined the Safety Division of the UMWA, serving as safety inspector, administrative assistant and deputy director.
In 1982, he was appointed administrator of the UMWA Occupational Health and Safety Department, a position he held for 22 years. In that position, Main managed the international health and safety program of the UMWA. He has served on a number of federal advisory committees, joint labor/management committees, mining industry partnerships and international tripartite committees relating to mine safety.
He has extensive hands-on experience inspecting and evaluating mining conditions, plans and systems, and has been involved in a number of mine emergencies and accident investigations. Before he accepted President Obama’s nomination, Main worked as a mine safety consultant. His recent work focused on research and analysis on prevention of mine accidents and disasters, development of training programs and facilities to prepare miners, rescue teams, and emergency responders for mine emergencies and international mine safety issues.