West Virginia readers are likely well aware of the danger and risk for coal mine accidents associated with the coal mine industry. Because of the risk for coal mine accidents, it is vital that mine owners and operators provide safety measures for all employees or they may face fines and penalties. Recently, four mines in the state were found lacking in certain safety requirements, resulting in several citations levied by federal investigators.
A major mine accident in 2010 initiated these monthly inspections in order to ensure that safety standards are always up-to-date. They are conducted by the United States Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) and are focused on mines with a history of violations or accidents. The four West Virginia mines received anywhere from one to 31 citations each.
Some of the violations mentioned include improper ventilation, lack of dust-control plans and failure to have a methane control system. Any of these issues could lead to an explosion or other health risks, such as lung disease. Consequently, at least one of the mines was issued closure orders. New regulations issued by the MSHA are focused on lowering the risk for diseases such as black lung by reducing the amount of dust in mines.
Employees of the mining industry know that they are at risk for coal mine accidents. This is the nature of the business, but there are many steps that can and should be taken to decrease these risks and provide a safe work environment. These particular mines should ensure that all employees are not placed at unnecessary risk while performing their normal work duties.
Source: The State Journal, “US Mine Safety and Health Administration issues more than 200 violations to 13 mines, 4 in West Virginia”, Sarah Tincher, July 24, 2014