Perhaps it’s a case of too little, too late but the Senate is now cracking down on mine safety enforcement after the deaths of 29 miners in West Virginia.
Senator Tom Harkin couldn’t have said it better (although this would also be certainly applicable to other corporations) when he claimed in his opening statement that, “…too many employers cut corners on safety, too many workers pay the price with their lives.”
Allegedly, although there are laws and enforcement measures and even mines inspectors and fines imposed on errant companies, mine operators have learned to circumvent the system.
It should be noted that prior to the deadly explosion in Massey’s Upper Big Branch mine, it has been reported to have violated several safety standards in ventilation, dust control and accumulation of combustible material. A senator even questioned on why the mine was not shut by inspector in spite of the multiple safety violations.
A witness also claimed during the committee that Massey Mines avoided filing accident claims and intimidated workers so as to mislead federal agencies on their safety conditions.
The senate is now looking into creating more legislation to protect the safety of miners, which also include putting criminal liability on employers who would penalize a miner for complaining or reporting a safety violation or issue.