Safety Is Shared Responsibility

From: The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

No one involved in coal mining should be exempt from responsibility for safety. That includes individual miners up to and including coal company owners and executives.

West Virginia legislators need to do more to ensure that happens, they were told Tuesday by J. Davitt McAteer, who led an investigation into the 2010 deaths of 29 miners at the Upper Big Branch Mine.

State law now places substantial responsibility on mine foremen to keep the men and women they supervise directly safe. But often, foremen are merely following orders.


MSHA reorganizes to centralize oversight of assessments, accountability programs

MSHA News Release: [02/08/2012]
Contact:   Amy Louviere
Phone:   (202) 693-9423
Release Number 12-233-NAT

MSHA reorganizes to centralize oversight of assessments, accountability programs

ARLINGTON, Va. — The U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration today announced a reorganization designed to centralize its oversight of certain cross-cutting, compliance-related actions. MSHA’s Office of Assessments, Accountability, Special Enforcement and Investigations will incorporate the management, support and coordination of both routine and special assessments, as well as agency headquarters accountability functions and special enforcement strategies. This list includes the citing of flagrant violations, investigations of retaliation claims and possible criminal violations, impact inspections, the pattern of violations program and the use of injunctive authority.


Drug Abuse Runs Wild in W.Va. Coal Mines

From: EnergyDigital.com

Mandatory drug tests are up for review this week in West Virginia as industry leaders call attention to the dangers of its drugged up workforce

The wild and not-so-wonderful drug problem plaguing West Virginia’s coal mining sector is getting a lot of attention this week. Lawmakers call for mandatory drug testing in light of casualties caused by impaired workers, the House and Senate Judiciary committees heard Monday.

In a two-day series of hearings, industry leaders focused on proposals calling for increased mining safety regulations in reaction to the 2010 Upper Big Branch mine explosion and the underground Raleigh County blast that killed 29 workers, the worst US coal mining disaster in four decades.


Arch Coal Takes Home Seven West Virginia Awards, Earns State’s Top Environmental Award

CHARLESTON, W.Va., Feb. 3, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — Arch Coal, Inc. today announced that its Appalachian operations earned seven prestigious safety and environmental awards in West Virginia, including the state’s top honor for mine reclamation.

Coal-Mac, Inc. received West Virginia’s top environmental achievement today. The West Virginia Division of Environmental Protection (DEP) presented Coal-Mac’s Phoenix 3 with the 2011 Greenlands Award for overall outstanding environmental performance and achievement in surface mine reclamation. This marks Coal-Mac’s fourth time to claim the top Greenlands Award and the ninth time that an Arch subsidiary has earned the honor.


McDowell mine instructor sentenced to 6 months in prison

From: The State Journal (WV)

By Andrea Lannom

A McDowell County mine instructor will serve six months in prison after he pleaded guilty in May to providing false statements to U.S. Mine Safety and Health investigators regarding miner training.

Raymond Dawson, 57, of Raysal appeared before U.S. District Judge Irene Berger in a Jan. 2 hearing. Dawson was an MSHA-approved instructor designated to provide initial and refresher training to Griffith Construction Co. miners.

Griffith Construction Company is an independent contractor that performed construction services at the Brooks Run Mining Company in McDowell County.


MSHA refocusing inspectors on surface mine safety in 2012 to reduce mining deaths

From: AP

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Federal mine inspectors will soon refocus enforcement efforts on violations of 14 safety standards that the Mine Safety and Health Administration says are commonly behind accidents and fatalities.

Eleven of the regulations relate to surface mining, agency director Joe Main said Tuesday in announcing the third phase of the agency’s ongoing “Rules to Live By” initiative. The need to shift attention became clear late last year, Main said, when a string of accidents at surface mines caused five deaths in 41 days.

Although 2011 was the second-lowest year on record for fatalities, Main said surface mines accounted for two-thirds of the total.


MSHA announces results of latest inspection blitz

From: Coal Tattoo

 by Ken Ward Jr.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration today announced that federal inspectors issued 321 citations and orders during special impact inspections conducted at 10 coal mines and three metal/nonmetal mines last month. The coal mines were issued 174 citations and 19 orders, while the metal/nonmetal operations were issued 112 citations and 16 orders.


House leaders introduce mine safety bill (WV)

From: The State Journal

By Taylor Kuykendall, Reporter

Proposed mine safety legislation from Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin will not be alone in the 2012 legislative session. A bill featuring numerous changes to mine safety law was introduced by House leadership Monday.

Speaker Rick Thompson, D-Wayne, like Delegate Charlene Marshall, D-Monongalia, has lost a relative to mining accidents.


2011 Saw Low Mine Fatalities

From: WVNSTV.com

By Merrily McAuliffe, Reporter


In April of 2010, 29 miners lost their lives in a mine explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine.

Over a year later, it seems as though mine health and safety has been looked at more closely at sites across the country.

In fact, this past year saw the 2nd lowest mine deaths nation wide since records were kept in 1910.

Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health, Joe Main, said low deaths could be attributed to the efforts of the whole mining community.


Thumbs up: Mining report shows safety progress, but more action required

From: Herald-Dispatch.com (Huntingon, WV)

After the deadliest year in coal mining in nearly two decades, the number of fatalities in the industry fell in 2011 to the second lowest total ever recorded.

That decrease marked a solid recovery for the industry and the agencies that regulate it, but the numbers indicate there is still much to do.

The death toll from U.S. coal mine accidents dropped to 21 in 2011 from 48 the year before. All mining deaths last year numbered 37, down from 71 in 2010.

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