30 December 2008

The Elusive Goal of Mine Safety in W.Va.

The Associated Press reports that "faced with a turnover rate topping 20 percent, the state is scrambling — for the second consecutive year — to perform five mandatory annual inspections at each of the state's 230 coal mines."

Director Ron Wooten tells AP that his Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training is pursuing inspections through overtime and other means: "inspectors no longer help with mine rescue team contests nor, as of December, are they presenting fatal accident reports to the Board of Coal Mine Health and Safety. The latter change allows inspectors to visit more mines."

The article notes the disparity in pay between state and federal inspectors. It observes further that "fatal accidents also have decreased to eight this year, down from 10 in 2007, according to the agency's Web site. Injuries increased slightly from 936 in 2007 to 970 as of last week."

"The situation raises questions about Gov. Joe Manchin's pledge to make the state's coal operations the safest in the nation after 14 miners died in two high-profile January 2006 accidents," the article said, adding that the coal industry "argues it's time to change the state's role."

The AP report comes on the heels of a record $4.2 million in penalties leveled at a subsidiary of Massey Energy Co. over the January 2006 fire that killed two miners in Logan County.

Aracoma Coal Co. also agreed to plead guilty to 10 criminal charges, including one felony, under an agreement reached with federal prosecutors.

AP, The Charleston Gazette, the Charleston Daily Mail and Public Broadcasting (with audio) are among those with coverage of the federal case.


Anonymous said...

Still not as dangerous a job as:
loggers,fishermen, pilots, roofers, electrical power installers, farmers, construction workers or
truck drivers.

But most of those industries don't have a union to browbeat the government into their own regulatory body.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, if miners didn't have a union that would great.

We would be back in the good ol' days with no safatey regulations and no workmen's comp when you got hurt. 16 hour work days and piss-poor pay (usually in company scrip redeemable only at company stores). And no way in hell to make the boss care what you had to say.

Yeah, the good ol' days. If your name is Don Blankenship.

And the first comment probably is from Don Blankenship!

Not Don Blankenship said...

Those old days are gone. And they're not comung back. Get over it.

What I was saying was that there were many more dangerous jobs than coal mining.

There's no Office of Lumberjack Safety making the logging industry conform to arcane safety regulations.

Anonymous said...

Um, since when do truck drivers, pilots, electrical workers, roofers, and construction workers not have unions?