Mining Investigation Reveals Troubling Violations while New Rule is Implemented for Safety
A recent NPR news investigation examines the overwhelming amount of penalties for delinquent mines in the U.S. The investigation unveiled troubling information that many operating mines have multiple safety and regulatory violations, putting miners in dangerous working conditions, and the operators have failed to pay the penalties.
One article mentions that a mining company has more than $4 million in unpaid penalties! Under the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act, mine operators are responsible in preventing unsafe and unhealthy conditions and practices in their mines, and such failure may result in fines or other penalties.
Imagine being crushed by a trailer containing 10,000 pounds of concrete blocks onto a conveyor belt in mining shaft while at work. It doesn’t sound real; however, according to the NPR investigation, this accident happened to a man in a Kentucky coal mine. The mine is one of the most delinquent mines in the U.S.
The NPR investigation found this particular mining company had multiple violations. The most common violations were ones that could cause a fire or explosion, including a fire suppression system with a makeshift fix that used tape. In some instances, inspectors found situations so life-threatening that they ordered miners out of a mine 145 times in the past eight years.
New Rule from the MSHA
While coal mining deaths are at a historic low, with only nine mining deaths in 2014, there are still a vast number of safety concerns. A recent Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) rule will require coal mining operators who use continuous mining machines to use ones with “proximity detection systems.” This rule will become effective March 16, 2015.
A continuous mining machine removes coal from its seam and places it onto a conveyor belt bringing the coal to the surface. The machine moves on its own from place to place underground, leaving little room for miners. While an efficient tool, it has led to the deaths of 35 miners since 1984 who were either crushed or hit by the continuous mining machine. Use of proximity detection systems, which contain electronic sensors that detect motion and then send warning signals to stop the machines, should help to prevent injuries and deaths of miners working in coal mines.
If you are interested in miners’ rights and responsibilities check out the MSHA guide.
Mining in Colorado
Mining is a part of Colorado’s history, from gold, silver, and coal mining. Up until the early twentieth century, mining was one of Colorado’s main sources of revenue for its economy. Even today, mining is an economic resource and labor market for Colorado. As of October 2012, Colorado had 11 active mines.
Mining unfortunately has its risks in Colorado as well. The MSHA helps to ensure safety requirements are met in Colorado and all over the country.
We help clients every day who have been injured at work, so if you have been hurt while on the job contact us today to request a free consultation. McDivitt Law Firm team members are here to assist you in the paperwork, deadlines, and processes associated with workers’ compensation claims.