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US mine regulators seek more miner reinstatements

ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) -- Federal mining regulators requested a record number of temporary reinstatements for miners who were retaliated against for reporting unsafe working conditions.

The U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration said Thursday filed 39 requests during fiscal year 2012.

That compares with an average of 26 requests per year in the last three fiscal years.

Federal law states that a miner cannot be retaliated against for filing a health or safety complaint, or refusing to work under unsafe conditions.

MSHA chief Joe Main says the agency strongly encourages miners to exercise their legal rights and maximize their involvement in monitoring working conditions.

Issues about fears of retaliation came to light during congressional hearings held in the wake of the April 2010 Upper Big Branch Mine disaster in West Virginia.