22 miners killed in first half of 2014, MSHA proposes to impose - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

22 miners killed in first half of 2014, MSHA proposes to impose amend safety regulations

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  • Many WV coal counties losing revenue

    Many WV coal counties losing revenue

    Monday, August 8 2016 10:15 AM EDT2016-08-08 14:15:05 GMT

    As Appalachian coal production continues its drastic decline, West Virginia’s coal-producing counties are  not only losing people as lifelong residents are forced to flee their homes in order to find work, but in many cases, they’re also relinquishing millions of dollars from their budgets.

    As Appalachian coal production continues its drastic decline, West Virginia’s coal-producing counties are  not only losing people as lifelong residents are forced to flee their homes in order to find work, but in many cases, they’re also relinquishing millions of dollars from their budgets.

During the first half of 2014, 22 miners were killed in accidents across the country, representing an increase in the mid-year fatality count, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration announced July 28.

Machinery and powered haulage accidents were the most common cause of mining deaths, at seven and five, respectively. Four of the miners killed were contractors, and five were supervisors.

In the metal and nonmetal mining sector, 14 miners died in the first half of the year. Eight coal miners died: four in machinery accidents, two in powered haulage accidents, and two in a coal outburst.

Of the coal mining fatalities reported this year, three occurred in West Virginia: one at Mountain View Mine in Tucker County on Jan. 16, and two at Brody Mine No. 1 in Boone County on May 12.

“Mining fatalities are preventable, and they are a reminder that much more needs to be done to protect the nation’s miners,” Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health, said in a statement. “These deaths should serve as a wake-up call for all of us to keep safety at the forefront at all times.”

The day following the announcement, the MSHA proposed to amend its civil penalty regulation to place a greater emphasis on more serious safety and health conditions, thus providing improved safety and health for miners, according to the release. 

The proposed rule would also simplify penalty criteria used in writing citations and orders, which the administration said would reduce the number of decisions made by the inspectors, promote consistency, objectivity and efficiency, and result in fewer areas of dispute and earlier resolution of enforcement issues.

The existing minimum penalty of $112 and the maximum penalty of $70,000 for non-flagrant violations would be unchanged. However, minimum penalties for unwarrantable failure violations would increase to provide a greater deterrent for operators who allow these violations to occur, according to the announcement.

The MSHA is seeking comment on three alternatives that would address the scope of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission’s review of the proposed penalties. The comment period for the proposed rule is 60 days from the date of the publication in the Federal Register.

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