Employment laws include rules and regulations aimed at maintaining a safe workplace for workers and laborers. This can be particularly important in the coal mining industry since coal mine accidents can be especially dangerous and can easily lead to losses of multiple lives. However, sometimes it takes a disaster to actually occur before regulators are aware that actions are needed in order to update safety regulations. Unfortunately, this seems to have been the case in West Virginia following a coal mine accident which killed 29 miners.
The incident, which happened in 2010, prompted lawmakers to implement numerous safety reform measures; however it appears that even more reforms may be needed to properly ensure coal mine safety. A governor’s task force recently reported on the coal mine disaster. The task force report acknowledges the need of more reforms, such as utilization of black-box technology similar to those used in airplanes and motor vehicles. These black boxes would record the amount of coal dust, methane and oxygen in the atmospheres of underground mines.
Investigators believe that the accident, which was caused by an explosion, was preceded by a buildup of coal dust and methane gas. Also, they believe that lack of ventilation caused unsafe work conditions. The task force believes that lives could have been saved and the accident prevented with the use of proven safety procedures. Since the accident, some of the rules that have already been implemented include use of meters that measure coal dust concentrations.
However, despite the newly implemented regulations and the proposed future safety standards, the 29 victims of the accident in West Virginia have already left behind their family, friends and loved ones. This can result in serious financial hardships, especially if a coal miner had been the main income provider for a family. Those who lose loved ones in coal mine accidents, such as this one, have options available to them and may benefit from gaining an understanding of their rights and the available legal remedies.
Source: Crossville Chronicle, “West Virginia investigation says 2010 coal mine tragedy “manmade”“, Pamela Pritt, Sept. 11, 2014