Coal Miners Continue to Face Fatal Risks; No Agreement on Solution
Coal miners have always faced risks, but the recent uptick in fatal accidents in coal mines is a cause for concern. So far in 2017, 10 coal miners have died, and according to safety officials, it’s rookie miners who face the highest risk.
Unfortunately, there is debate over how to fix the problem and the end of the disagreement between the unions and the mine safety agency is nowhere in sight.
Officials Institute Safety Initiative
The response from the US Miner Safety and Health Administration includes a summertime initiative that includes observing and training miners in proper safety habits.
The United Mine Workers of America don’t think the initiative does enough, in part because federal safety inspectors don’t have the authority to punish the mine for safety violations. According to union president Cecil Roberts, this inability to punish “…takes away the one and only enforcement power the inspector and the agency has.”
Without regulatory measured that punish wrongdoing, it’s likely more miners will be injured. If you’ve been injured in a coal mining accident, we can help. We assist clients injured on the job get the compensation they deserve.
Inexperienced Miners Face Greatest Risk
Both sides agree that miners newer to the industry face the highest risk. An eastern Pennsylvania miner who died on July 25th had been at the mine for less than two weeks when he was run over by a bulldozer.
Several of the miners who have died this year had spent only a short time at their mines, but had significant experience elsewhere. Despite their inexperience at the mine where their deaths occurred, nine of the 10 miners involved in fatal accidents this year were experienced miners overall.
Some believe unfamiliarity with surroundings is a factor and there is evidence that non-fatal accidents also occur at double the rate in instances when miners are new to a mine.
Safety Initiative Focuses on Training for “New” Miners
According to the mine safety agency, the safety initiative will include visits to mines and “suggestions” for training miners who have been part of a specific team for less than a year. Unfortunately, the miner’s union believes suggestions will do far less good than citations and fines for improving safety at the mines.
One official believes the lack of authority to cite mines “ties the hands” of inspectors and credits the strong enforcement of laws and safety regulations in recent years for reducing the number of fatalities until this year.
Vacancy in Leadership Position Could Play a Role
There has been a vacancy at the top of the mine safety agency since former Assistant Secretary of Labor Joe Main, a former miner’s union official focused on eliminating safety problems, left in January. There is currently no time table for hiring a new assistant secretary of labor to oversee the agency. The position is a presidential appointment.
What Should Injured Miners Do?
We’ve worked with miners injured on-the-job, as well as families that have lost loved ones in mining accidents. While nothing can alleviate the pain caused by the loss of a loved one or the devastation caused by a serious mining accident, we can help you get the compensation you need to deal with your medical bills and cover your cost of living if you are unable to work.
For more information or to speak to someone from our team, contact Heavens Law at 888.897.5377.