WV Officials Seeking Federal Mine Safety Reform
Coal mining is considered to be one of the more dangerous jobs around today. Mining accidents occur frequently, and many are concerned that these incidents may be occurring far too often. According to USA Today in 2010 there were over 150 workers were trapped in a mine in China, and in West Virginia there were 29 that were killed. Sadly, since 1970, there have been over ten reported disasters in the coal mines, according to the Associated Press. The majority of these incidents included at least 10 deaths or more, sometimes even dozens.
The Upper Big Branch tragedy claimed the lives of many loved ones, and the main concern with the disaster was the numerous safety violations. According to reports in the year leading up to the 2010 disaster, the mines received over 50 reports from federal inspectors regarding safety violations. During these inspections, the investigators also closed down part of the mines. Unfortunately, that did not protect the lives of those down the road. What causes even more frightening is that since 1995, the mine received just over 3,000 violations for similar reasons.
The mine was owned by Massey Energy, and out of these many violations, they only chose to contest 300. West Virginia is a coal mining community, and while the people know of the dangers, many chose to work there because of the need to earn a decent income. In the midst of the tragedies of loved ones lost; those in the community state that the mines are a needed part of life. The stability of their economy depends on the mines in their towns. Mingo County is an example of this, when their mines closed down they went from being a young and lively town with a lot of traffic, to now having many less people.
As a result of the mine explosion two years ago, lawmakers are now fighting to pass legislation regarding the safety of the mines. It appears that in the past there have been many attempts to do so, and for one reason or another, the legislation was never approved. It is believed that the mine disaster could have been prevented had Massey Energy upheld the necessary safety regulations in the first place. Now, the blame does not only rest with the energy company, people are beginning to point the fingers back at the state and federal regulators as well for the disasters that could have been prevented. Possibly due to the fact that while there were violations; there were no consequences for the mining companies.
According to The State Journal, after the Upper Big Branch incident the lawmakers made an effort to pass legislation, however nothing was passed. Despite the physical safety dangers of the coal mines, another common concern there is with this dangerous job is the black lung caused by inhaling too much dirt. The United Mine Workers of America sheds some light on this painful disease, claiming that each year 1,500 coal miners are killed due to the black lung. The black lung is an excruciating way to die, and no person deserves to be a victim of this because it is entirely preventable.
While there are currently benefits offered to coal miners that have developed the black lung, it is not unheard of that they have a very difficult time receiving these benefits. Recently, Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va. has been helping the minors, fighting for ways to make obtaining these benefits easier. Representatives of West Virginia have all shared their concern for the miners of their state, claiming that protecting them is a top priority. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va. claims that they have research all of the past safety violations from the Upper Big Branch mine, and they are seeking to have legislation passed to correct specific safety issues. Her aim with the legislation is to make the punishment more severe to the individuals who violate the safety requirements in the mines.
While there are many leaders within the mining industry that highly value the safety of the people, there are also individuals who let things slip through the cracks, and these are the people that Captio wants to see punished. As the legislation is hopefully accepted, more people will be held accountable for their actions, leading to a safer environment for miners to work in. These regulations will not only affect those higher in command in the industry, but also to anyone that may be making errors; both miners and owners alike.
Have you been a victim of a coal mining accident? If so, you are in need of an experienced West Virginia personal injury attorney who can fight for the compensations that you deserve. Whether you are having a difficult time receiving the benefits for the black lung disease, or you have been injured in an accident, contact our office today. At Mani Ellis & Layne, PLLC, we are committed to helping individuals fight for what is rightfully theirs after an injury in the coal mines. Not only do we fight for injured victims, we want to come alongside those families who have lost a loved one in an accident as well. Wrongful deaths, just like these injures, are often a result of negligent acts by a person or the company as a whole; and our firm wants to see to it that justice is served. Contact us today to discuss your current situation, and we will help fight for you!