Safer Union Mines
Studies show that union mines are much safer than non-union mines. A May 2011 report from the John M. Olin Program in Law and Economics at Stanford University found a "substantial and significant decline in traumatic mining injuries and fatalities" at underground mines where the United Mine Workers of America represented workers.
The report found that over two decades there were:
- between 18 and 33 percent fewer traumatic injuries at union mines, compared to non-union operations;
- between 27 to 68 percent fewer fatal accidents at union mines (the range in figures accounts for possible statistical variations because of small sample sizes).
Need a Lawyer?
If you are a coal miner and need legal representation on a mine safety issue, we suggest you contact:
P.O. Box 22446
Lexington, Ky 40522
Above all else, coal companies should be diligent about the safety of their workers and the conditions inside their mines. Officials responsible for enforcing mine safety laws should do so wihout interference. And elected leaders should strengthen those laws when the need is clearly demonstrated.
Unfortunately, none of this happens as it should.
An examination of 320 coal mine deaths from 1996 to 2005 by Ken Ward Jr. of the Charleston Gazette found that 91 percent of those deaths could be traced to a serious safety violation, including not performing required safety checks, poorly maintained equipment, roof control and ventilation violations, and inadequate training.
The disaster that killed 29 miners at the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia in April 2010 reminds us that not enough has changed since Ward's report. Yet legislation to address some of the enforcement issues brought to light by this tragedy is stalled in the U.S. Congress.
KFTC has established this space to provide news, analysis and opinions about mine safety issues. We'll update the list below as new articles and reports become available.
A joint investigation by NPR and Mine Safety and Health News found that thousands of mine operators fail to pay safety penalties, even as they continue to manage dangerous — and sometimes deadly — mining operations. Most unpaid penalties are between two and 10 years overdue; some go back two decades. And federal regulators seem unable or unwilling to make mine owners pay.
Federal appeals judges have dismissed a coal industry complaint challenging a rule that the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration has used in stepped-up enforcement against coal mines accused of having poor safety records and a pattern of violations.
Staffing in the state's mine-safety office will be slashed 37 percent to deal with a steep budget cut approved by the legislature this year, according to an order Gov. Steve Beshear filed Friday to restructure the agency.
This year-long investigation examines how doctors and lawyers, working at the behest of the coal industry, have helped defeat the benefits claims of miners sick and dying of black lung, even as disease rates are on the rise and an increasing number of miners are turning to a system that was supposed to help alleviate their suffering.
Lawmakers are trying to do away with an important requirement to protect coal miners — without the usual process of holding public hearings and engaging in public discussion. Instead, the Senate quietly proposed a state budget that would significantly reduce funding for the Office of Mine Safety and Licensing.