The coal industry in West Virginia has been hit particularly hard due to a slowdown in mining. As a result, lawmakers in the state considered scaling back the number of mine inspections. While they backed off due to criticism, other Appalachian coal states such as Kentucky have passed laws that cut back on the number of mandatory safety inspections.
In West Virginia, the backlash appeared to be unexpected by lawmakers. However, the state records multiple mining deaths every year. The fifth mining death of 2017 was reported on June 13. The state reported a record low number of mining deaths at eight fatalities in 2016. If the law had been passed, the number of mandatory mine inspections would have been reduced from four to just one per year.
Under the Kentucky law, three of the six mandatory inspections can be replaced with what are being called “analyst visits”. These visits will focus on coaching sessions in an effort to improve miners’ safety habits. The reductions in safety inspections were paired with the Trump administration proposal to make cuts to the Department of Labor. The DOL is responsible for the federal mine safety program, which oversees annual inspections on underground mines.
No matter how small a mining accident may seem, those involved are at risk for suffering serious, life-impacting injuries or even death. If unsafe work conditions, improper training or equipment failure resulted in an injury, a worker could seek compensation for the damages that were sustained. People who have been harmed in this type of an accident might want to have the assistance of an experienced lawyer throughout the process.