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West Virginia to Reopen Investigation into Mechanic’s Death

What happened:

The West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health, Safety and Training is reopening an investigation into the death of a veteran mechanic at a coal preparation plant that happened last year because of conflicting accounts between the federal and state reports. 

The fatal accident happened in May, 2012, at Alpha Natural Resources’ Liberty plant in Boone County, Independence Coal Co. The victim, 57 year-old Clyde Dolin, was preparing to use a torch to cut and remove a 12-inch steel beam on the third floor that was interfering with hoist operations.   He was killed when he fell near an elevator.  The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration’s (MSHA) report said that the victim was using a ladder extension, without the base, and that a foreman was helping to steady the ladder as he climbed it.  MSHA cited the company for improper use of the ladder, (something the agency discovered was a common practice in the company), failing to provide safe access to the beam and failing to require the victim to wear a safety belt and line.

However, the state Board of Coal Mine Health and Safety has no record of the foreman actually holding the ladder, only that he may have walked by the area.  Investigators say they would have addressed that issue if they had known.


The Virginia Injury Lawyer Perspective:   

In a prior report, our firm shared with readers the increase in workers’ deaths the American mining industry was experiencing.  Lack of concern for worker safety continues to be a problem. The fact that the foreman was actually holding the ladder without the base - clear safety violation - is unacceptable. It appears to emphasize that lack of concern.

If you have lost a family member in a work-related accident, contact a Virginia wrongful death attorney to find out what civil liability the company may be held accountable for your pain and loss.


Independence Coal Co, Madison, WV

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Helpful Info:

Our firm published a guide on the wrongful death claims process in Virginia. Read it here.

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