Mine Safety | Kentuckians For The Commonwealth

Mine Safety

Safer Union Mines

Mountains & miners deserve better

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:

Wes Addington
Appalachian Citizens Law Center
317 Main Street
Whitesburg, Ky 41858
606-633-3929
aclc@appalachianlawcenter.org

OR

Tony Oppegard
Attorney-At-Law
P.O. Box 22446
Lexington, Ky 40522
859-948-9239
tonyoppegard@gmail.com

Support Mine Safety graphicAbove 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.

sacraficed-forgotten mine safety graphic

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.

Local black lung resolution is picking up steam

Most recent update as of Jan 2, 2019: Sixteen local governments in Kentucky have passed local resolutions in 2018 calling on Senator McConnell and other members of Congress to do right by our miners and communities by passing the RECLAIM Act, strengthening funding for the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund, and protecting miners' pensions. 

* * * 

The resolution was first adopted by the City of Benham in Harlan County in September 2018. That action was followed quickly by local governments in the cities of JacksonMorehead and Whitesburg, and in BreathittKnottLetcherRowan and Pike counties. 

Knott, Letcher, Rowan and Pike counties became the 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th local governments in eastern Kentucky to pass a local resolution calling on members of Congress to pass several bills needed to help sick, disabled, retired and unemployed coal miners and their communities. The fiscal courts in Letcher and Knott counties took the unanimous action at their respective monthly meetings on October 15, and Pike and Rowan counties acted the next day.

Update 11.30.2018: The Floyd County Fiscal Court became the 10th Kentucky community to pass the resolution on October 18. Magoffin County quickly became the 11th, followed by Ohio County, in Western Kentucky, Knox County, and the City of Lynch in Harlan County. 

Update 12.10.2018: Johnson County's Fiscal Court passed the 15th resolution in Kentucky by local governments calling on Senator McConnell and other members of Congress to do right by our miners and coal communities!

Update in late December: Harlan County's Fiscal Court passed the 16th resolution urging Congress to pass the RECLAIM Act, strengthen the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund, and protect miners' pensions. 

City of Jackson Black Lung / RECLAIM / Pension Resolution

In October 2018 the City of Jackson, Kentucky in Breathitt County unanimously passed a local resolution calling on Congress to pass the RECLAIM Act, strengthen the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund, and protect the pension fund that supports miners who worked for coal companies that have since gone bankrupt.

Local Black Lung Resolution: Breathitt County

On September 26, the Breathitt County Fiscal Court unanimously approved this resolution, calling on members of Congress to support a package of Just Transition bills in Congress.

Local Resolution passed by Benham, 9.13.2018

On September 13, 2018 the City of Benham passed a local resolution calling on members of Congress to pass the RECLAIM Act, strengthen the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund, and protect pensions promised to miners and their surviving spouses.

A Kentucky conversation about ways to help pass the RECLAIM Act and strengthen the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund

You are invited to join a video conference call at 7 pm ET on Monday, August 20, to learn ways Kentuckians can help pass several bills in Congress that are needed to assist disabled, sick, and laid off coal miners and their families and communities.

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