Shane - 1/3/2006 12:09 AM
This particular mine has received an unbelievable amount of violations recently. No way to enforce the offenders so this is what happens.
I have been a mining professional for the last 20 plus years with 15 of that underground. It is so disconcerting to see a post like this. Mining is one of the most heavily requlated industries, with an entire regulatory body, MSHA (mine safety and health administration), to enforce safety and health regulations. Underground mines, by congressional mandate, receive at a minimum, 4 unannounced inspections per year. In most large production coal mines, inspectors have been known to be on site nearly full time. Still, accidents do happen, and fatalities do occur. I can tell you that if egregious safety violations had been the norm, penalties and criminal proceedings would have been levied long ago. The fact that numerous violations have occured does not impune the overall safety of the organization. As I read it, most of the fines were non-significant and substantial, a designation that MSHA reserves for minimal violations of the safety standards, where as S&S citations build history. Repeat offenses garner further penalties up to and including 5 yrs imprisonment and/or $50,000 fine per incident(or both). Individuals are not immune either, as MSHA can penetrate the corporate veil and penalize agents of the corporation the same amount. Typically, any inspection garners a few citations, as Congress also mandated MSHA would be mostly self-funded as of the early '90's... Examples of such are a cracked windshield, missing fire extinguisher, missing lug bolt, loose machinery guard, etc. I could go on and on... I should also add that any inspector is an agent of the secretary of Labor and has the full weight of the Federal government available and can shut down an operation during an inspection, if egregious safety violations are noted. Furthermore, inspectors are rotated out annually to prevent or minimize the influence of complacency on the part of an inspector, or the possible occurence of graft.
Your stereotype serves to perpetuate the myth that mining is inherently dangerous. Danger is present, obviously... But today, not much more so than many other industries... Advances in training and equipment have served to improve the overall health of the industry. How many OSHA inspections have occured where you work? With what frequency?
Sorry to vent... I am proud to be a part of this vital industry, and proud of the accomplishments made during the last 20 years in the arena of health and safety. Today, I serve as a VP operations of a mining division. Any successful mining operator I know treats Safety as an integral component of the mining strategy. Obviously, proper adherence to safety training aided in these miners' survival.
God Bless the miners who were rescued, and God's peace to the family of the injured/killed miner(s)... Our industries' prayers are with you.