In its semi-annual report, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) says it is concerned that the two key federal agencies charged with protecting workers’ health and safety have the resources and ability to meet their workplace safety obligations.
There is an alarming increase the number of coal miners—including younger and younger miners—diagnosed with deadly black lung disease. But a proposed federal rule limiting miners’ exposure to the coal dust that causes black lung is stuck in regulatory limbo and Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) has urged President Obama to end the delays and move the rule “as expeditiously as possible.”
Congress must fix “the glaring safety issues revealed in the wake of the Upper Big Branch mine disaster,” said Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) this week, as he introduced legislation to bring the nation’s mine health and safety laws up to date.
The former president of a Massey Energy subsidiary, who also served for 20 years in top positions throughout Massey, implicated former Massey CEO Donald Blankenship in a long-term scheme to hide mine safety violations from federal inspectors.
A mine superintendent at the former Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch (W.Va.) mine, where 29 coal miners were killed in 2010, will serve 21 months in prison for his role in disabling a methane monitor that automatically shuts down a coal cutting machine when dangerous levels of the explosive gas are detected. As part of a plea deal with federal prosecutors, Gary May also will pay a $20,000 fine.
The workers at the nonunion mine featured in Spike TV’s 2011 reality show “Coal” voted this week to join the Mine Workers (UMWA). The 23 miners work at Cobalt Coal’s Westchester in McDowell County, W.Va.
Concerns about safety practices at the mine were raised after the airing of the first few episodes last year. The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration and the West Virginia Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training cited the mine for several violations based on practices shown in the program.
True Value should take back the 2011 Supplier of the Year Award it gave North American Salt, says United Steelworkers (USW) President Leo Gerard, because North American operates a salt mine in Louisiana that has received safety and health citations for serious violations and been shut down temporarily by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). Some 100 workers at the company’s Cote Blanche mine in Louisiana are USW members.
If you work in the hydraulic fracturing industry—better known as “fracking”—you may be exposed to high levels of crystalline silica, putting you at risk of developing silicosis, lung cancer and other debilitating diseases, according to a letter sent today from the AFL-CIO, Mine Workers (UMWA) and the United Steelworkers (USW) to the top federal safety agencies.
A former superintendent at Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch (W.Va.) mine, where 29 miners were killed in an April 2010 explosion, pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to violate federal mine safety laws. He faces up to five years in prison.
If deadly mine disasters like 2010’s Upper Big Branch (W.Va.) that killed 29 coal miners are to be prevented, miners must have stronger protections to report safety violations, mine safety law must be stronger and mine operators must face tougher penalties for violating safety and health laws, witnesses told a House hearing yesterday.