Local Mining Company Fined Over $900,000 for Fatal Blast

Our local paper, the Republican Herald, has reported that a local mining company has been fined more than $900,000 for an accident in 2006 that killed a miner.

The Department of Labor said the penalties were a result of “flagrant” safety violations. Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health is quoted in the article as saying, “Mine operators must be held accountable for their failure to keep miners safe.”

This is the first time the department’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) cited a mining company for flagrant violations under the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act of 2006.

MSHA’s investigation discovered that when an unconfined shot was detonated at the face of the mine, methane gas exploded in an inadequately ventilated area. The mine has been sealed and permanently closed since the accident.

In 2007, MSHA fined the mining company $874,500 for failure to comply with approved ventilation and roof control plans, poor blasting practices, assigning unqualified personnel to blasting work, and conducting improper preshift examinations.

MSHA said six of the 10 violations that contributed to the accident were flagrant. The Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act defines flagrant as “a reckless or repeated failure to make reasonable efforts to eliminate a known violation of a mandatory safety and health standard that substantially and proximately caused, or reasonable could have been expected to cause, death or serious bodily injury.”

Schuylkill County has a long, proud history in coal mining. So we were shocked and saddened by this fatal accident — even more so when we heard that it could have been prevented. Workers should be protected and we have built our reputation on making sure that injured workers are compensated for their injuries. If you have been injured on the job, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact O’Connor Law for a free review of your case.

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