Coal Mining Tragedy Indicates Lack of Safety Concern | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

People across the nation have been following the story of the six miners trapped in a Utah coal mine. This weekend, after a sixth borehole pierced the mine shaft where the men have been trapped for over three weeks, their families are in agony. Not only were the miners not found, but the area discovered was too debris-filled and the air too deplete of oxygen to sustain life. Some are now questioning whether the mine was safe enough for the men to be working there in the first place.

It has been suggested that the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has been accommodating the coal mining industry at the expense of safety, and that coal mining companies are exchanging the safety of their workers for more productivity. The fact that there were more coal mining deaths last year (47 deaths) than in any other year for over a decade suggest that the claims may be founded. The safety of coal mines is of great concern for many residents of West Virginia and Virginia, places where coal miners are hard at work. In fact, West Virginia leads the nation in underground coal production, directly employing over 40,000 West Virginians and accounting for about 50 percent of U.S. coal exports. 26 West Virginia counties produce coal, with McDowell County, WV leading the way. Coal mining also occurs in Virginia (VA) in the counties of Wise County, VA, Dickenson County, VA, Lee County, VA, Buchanan County, VA, Russell County, VA, Scott County, VA, and Tazewell, VA. Unfortunately, coal mining fatalities and injuries have occurred in West Virginia (WV) and Virginia (VA) coal mines. In 2006, a total of 25 people died in West Virginia (WV) coal mines. The Sago mine, the mine where most of those deaths occurred, had been cited for having had over 200 violations the year before, 96 of which were considered “significant and substantial.” The total number of violations written by WVMHS&T inspectors in 2005 was actually over 10,000. And we are still hearing about even more injuries and fatalities occurring as the result of the negligence of coal mining companies. In fact, just a few weeks ago (July 26,2007) MSHA cited the operator of a West Virginia (WV) coal mine for a roof fall that fatally injured several workers.

If you or a loved one has been killed or suffered a personal injury in a coal mining accident, please feel free to contact one of our personal injury lawyers at Hajek, Shapiro & Appleton& Duffan, as several of our lawyers are licensed in West Virginia as well as Virginia.

About the Editors: Shapiro & Appleton& Duffan personal injury law firm is based in Virginia (VA), near the NE North Carolina (NC) border and handles car,truck,railroad, and medical negligence cases and more. Our lawyers proudly edit the Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard, and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as a pro bono public information service. Lawyers licensed in: VA, NC, SC, WV, DC, KY.