Mine Safety

Southern Coal
Patrick Graham

Another West Virginia coal miner died this week, the fifth death this year. It's a tough reality in the coalfields where families regularly pray that loved ones will come home from a day's work, as they have for decades.

As incidents are reported, media outlets often share the amount of citations or delinquent fines of the mine where the accident occurred. But to what end?

Aracoma Miners Honored at Mine Academy

Oct 28, 2014
West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On West Virginia Morning, in 2006 two miners died in a mine fire in Logan County.  Eight years later, a fire training facility is dedicated in their memory.  Also, noted food promoter the James Beard Foundation has honored five local food organizations in West Virginia.

The government says that the number of chronic safety violators among mine operators has fallen sharply in recent years.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration says the number has dropped in response to reforms the agency has taken to rein in mines cited frequently for safety violations.

Prior to 2010 no mine had ever been placed on a pattern of violations, or POV status. Safety reforms aligned the POV regulatory rule, with Congress’s original intent in enacting the Mine Act.
 

State mining officials are citing Patriot Coal for serious violations during a severe coal burst that killed two miners in May.

The enforcement action by the state Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training says the mine did not have proper support in its walls and roofs.

Jessica Lilly

Landmark regulation by the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration meant to lower the amount of dust in mines begins Friday. The first part is meant to fix the loopholes in the sampling process. Victims of black lung hope the new regulations give young workers a better future. 

msha.gov

The first part of the landmark regulation meant to prevent black lung disease takes effect Friday. This phase is meant to fix regulatory loopholes in the sampling process.


Evan Agostini for The Greenbrier Resort / AP Photo

A West Virginia coal billionaire has more than 250 pending violations at mining operations in Kentucky and four other states.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration has issued 38 citations as a result of an inspection of Rhino Eastern LLC's Eagle Mine 3 in Wyoming County.  MSHA says inspectors found conditions that put miners at risk of developing black lung disease and increased the potential for deadly explosions.

According to a news release issued Monday, inspectors arrived at the mine mid-morning on June 24, securing the mine’s phone systems on the surface that provide communications to the underground mining section. They traveled to the underground working section, where they arrived undetected. There, they determined that the mine operator failed to follow approved ventilation, methane and dust control plans in several locations of the underground mine. 

Jessica Lilly / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The Patriot Coal-owned Boone Co. mine where two men died Monday night had a historically bad record of safety violations and practiced a dangerous type of mining known as “retreat mining.”

The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration handed down a Pattern of Violations designation to Brody No. 1 Mine in October 2013 after citing 253 serious violations during a review period. An MSHA audit of Brody Mining’s records found injuries of miners that the operator failed to report to the federal agency.

AllVoices.com

  Federal impact inspections at U.S. mines in March resulted in 152 citations and 14 orders.   The Mine Safety and Health Administration conducted the inspections at 10 coal mines and three other mines. Six citations and five failure orders were issued at Peabody Midwest Mining LLC's Francisco underground mine in Gibson County, Indiana. MSHA says a loose coal rib put miners at risk of being hit by falling rock. In addition, combustible coal particles and dust were present on the belt structure and drive motors, power cables and other surfaces. 

A new state mine safety rule will require coal operators to install detection systems that automatically shut down continuous mining machines when people get too close.

The rule gives companies until July 1, 2017, to install proximity detection systems on machines already in service. The systems will be required on new machines put into service after Jan. 1, 2015, and on rebuilt machines after July 1, 2015.

The Charleston Gazette reports the Board of Coal Mine Health and Safety approved the rule on Wednesday.

Let's look back at the Upper Big Branch Disaster to see what does it take to change coal culture?

Remembering the worst coal mining disaster in history so history does not repeat.

Wheeling Jesuit University hopes you'll join them to "Celebrate Appalachia".

Local maple syrup could be threatened by climate change.

Jessica Lilly / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Four years after an explosion at the Upper Big Branch killed 29 miners and injured two others, an investigation by U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin continues to examine the practices of executives at then-owner Massey Energy. The mine’s current operator, Alpha Natural Resources, has established Running Right, a leadership academy focused on empowering miners to address safety concerns.

An audit says the Mine Safety and Health Administration needs to improve its data on underreporting of mining injuries and illnesses so that it can better target enforcement efforts.

The audit by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Inspector General says the agency has taken steps to detect and deter underreporting of accidents and illnesses. But more can be done to address the problem.
 

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Taking into consideration dermal and inhalation exposures, as well as ingestion, WV TAP researchers offer a screening level for MCHM eight times as stringent as the CDC's--still yet, they say levels of the chemical in the water below the federal agency's screening level is "safe." Mine safety professors have joined Sen. Joe Manchin in saying they were misrepresented by Don Blankenship's film Upper Big Branch - Never Again. A Marshall County high school senior wins a scholarship by creating a business plan to sell mushrooms.

"PBC Judicial Forum"
Rick Neuhoff / Flickr

A former mine boss is asking a federal appeals court to toss out his conviction for his actions at the West Virginia mine where an explosion killed 29 miners in 2010. 

Federal impact inspections at U.S. mines in January resulted in 198 citations and 11 orders.
 
The Mine Safety and Health Administration conducted the inspections at 11 coal mines and three metal and nonmetal mines in Alabama, Colorado, Indiana, Kentucky, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.

Martin Valent / WV Legislative Photography

In the Energy, Industry and Mining Committee Tuesday, Senators took up a bill meant to close loopholes in the drug testing system for mine workers in safety positions.

There is already a notification system in place for any worker who fails, refuses to submit to or attempts to falsify a drug test.

Notification is sent to the state Office of Miner’s Health Safety and Training which keeps a record and may block that person’s next attempt to obtain a mining job.

U.S. Department of Labor Mine Safety and Health Administration
U.S. Department of Labor Mine Safety and Health Administration logo

A federal commission found that a mine operator’s failure to notify MSHA and mine rescue teams immediately after an explosion in 2006 was inexcusable. . Twelve miners were killed as a result of the infamous blast also known as the Sago Disaster.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration announced Tuesday  that the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission overturned a decision by an Administrative Law Judge.  

U.S. Department of Labor Mine Safety and Health Administration
U.S. Department of Labor Mine Safety and Health Administration logo

The federal mine safety agency says it has finished implementing the 100 regulatory and administrative changes it recommended after West Virginia's Upper Big Branch mine disaster.

The changes stem from a March 2012 internal report examining the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration's actions leading up to April 2010 explosion that killed 29 miners. The agency says all recommendations in the report were implemented by Dec. 31.

A Mercer County man who falsified mandatory mine safety reports while employed at several West Virginia mining operations was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison.

Craig Belcher, 37, of Bluefield, W.Va., pleaded guilty in July to providing a false statement, representation and certification in a Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) document. 

Belcher’s sentence was handed down Monday by Senior United States District Court Judge David A. Faber in Bluefield.

AllVoices.com

Forty-two miners died in the U.S. in work-related accidents in 2013 according to preliminary data.

That’s up from the 36 miners who died in 2012.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration pointed out that fatalities occurred at a record low for the first three quarters of 2013. During the fourth quarter, six coal miners and nine metal/nonmetal miners died in mining accidents, a significant increase from the same period in 2012.

West Virginia lost six coal miners last year, the most in the country. Kentucky had the most metal/nonmetal mining deaths, with four.

United Miner Workers of America

This New Year’s Eve marks the 44th anniversary of the murder of Union presidential candidate Joseph “Jock” Yablonski.

Earlier this month the trigger-man in the 1969 murder, Paul Gilly, petitioned the court asking to be released from prison.  But the union believes Gilly should stay behind bars.

Dark time in United Mine Workers of America history

Jock Yablonski, his wife and daughter were murdered December 31, 1969. It was just over a year after the Farmington Disaster, where an explosion killed 78 men, underground.

Federal mining regulators issued more than 290 citations during October and November impact inspections.
 
     The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration says it also issued 21 orders following inspections at 18 coal mines and three other mines.
 

A mine in Lincoln County has been put on notice of a pattern of violations.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration announced today that Coal River Mining LLC’s Fork Creek No. 1 Mine is a pattern violator.

A POV notice, one of the agency’s toughest enforcement actions, is reserved for the mines that pose the greatest risk to the safety of miners.

An MSHA audit revealed that the mine operator failed to report miner injuries equivalent to 239 days of lost time during the review period.

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