A mining executive was recently convicted of a misdemeanor with regard to his role in a tragedy that claimed the lives of 29 miners in West Virginia. This federal criminal conviction could mark a landmark change in accountability for mining companies and executives. Many believe it could lead to a more serious approach to safety measures and other ways to prevent coal mine accidents.
The prosecution noted that the mining executive was aware of certain signs that indicated that a serious accident was imminent. Reportedly, machines were giving off sparks, and there was a build up of toxic gases. He was accused of conspiring to violate important safety violations and other crimes. Other executives affiliated with this company have been convicted of crimes, and the company has paid reparations to families for their losses.
Many executives are not involved in the day-to-day operations of a mine. This individual was directly involved in many decisions, reportedly choosing higher output over the safety of the men who worked there. These federal criminal proceedings resulted from the 2010 collapse of the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia.
Coal mining is a dangerous job, fraught with certain risks. In this industry, it is especially important for executives and companies to take every possible step to avoid coal mine accidents. As this case illustrates, the deadly consequences of a mining accident can change an entire community, and the families of those killed or those who were injured have the right to seek financial compensation from liable parties.
Source: The Washington Post, “Coal baron convicted of misdemeanor after mine disaster that killed 29“, Lydia DePillis, Dec. 3, 2015