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Shapiro & Appleton

West Virginia Mine Safety Office Meets With Workers After Recent Deaths

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What Happened:

The West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health, Safety and Training announced it has launched a massive effort to visit every single mining facility in the state to meet with workers to discuss mine safety.

The huge push was prompted by a call from West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin who said safety inspectors should make a commitment to visiting each and every one of the state’s more than 500 mining sites to discuss safety issues. The decision to launch the effort was made after a string of deadly mining accidents across the state had worried inspectors about the start of a new and deadly trend.

Since November, six miners have died in West Virginia in work-related accidents. The numbers have been even more shocking recently, with four miners dying in only the past three weeks.

Given the recent rash of mine safety incidents, the state inspectors say their goal is to reach every single miner in the state, regardless of which shift they are working. They hope to be finished with all underground mining visits by the weekend and then visit all surface mining operations next week.

The issue is serious enough that some mining companies have said they support the idea of a “stand-down” where the operations are completely stopped for an hour to allow all miners on duty to attend the safety briefing. Though no new information is going to be conveyed during the meetings, the state agency says the meetings are important because they reiterate important bits of safety advice that are easy to forget over time.

Another issue that is being investigated by state and federal regulators is a practice taken by some mining companies of warning workers of impending inspections. The warning gives workers time to cover up potential problems, something that seriously undermines their safety in the long-term. The Mine Safety and Health Administration has issued warnings against three mining operations in West Virginia for such violations. The state and federal agencies say they will continue investigating the recent deaths and issue new recommendations and possibly new penalties for safety violations depending on what the investigations reveal.

The Virginia Injury Attorney’s Perspective:

Everyone knows there are jobs as dangerous as coal mining, something the recent rash of deaths perfectly illustrates. In all of 2012, only seven West Virginia miners died. So far, four been killed in the past three weeks alone, setting a possibly disturbing trend of the rest of the year.

It’s tragic to hear that such hardworking individuals have to endure so many dangerous conditions in their workplace. Those doing such backbreaking work should at least be able to rely on the safety of the equipment they use, tragically, we see far too often that this is not the case. Those injured in mining or other industrial accidents should consider speaking with an experienced Virginia injury lawyer to weigh their legal options.

Helpful Info: 

Our skilled attorneys have been involved in numerous cases in which we have represented workers or the families of workers who have been seriously injured or killed while on the job. In one case, involving the wrongful death of a CSX railroad worker who lost his life to lung cancer after years of being exposed to asbestos, diesel fumes and other toxic substances, we secured an $8.6 million jury verdict for the family of our client.

For more information on the wrongful death claims process in Virginia, read the following guide published by our firm’s experienced wrongful death attorneys.

Have Questions? 

Those who have been seriously injured in workplace accidents will likely have many questions about how to move forward and put the pieces of their life back together. The following frequently asked questions contain some important basic information about workplace accident claims in Virginia.


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