Safer Union Mines
Studies show that union mines are much safer than non-union mines. A May 2011 report from the John M. Olin Program in Law and Economics at Stanford University found a "substantial and significant decline in traumatic mining injuries and fatalities" at underground mines where the United Mine Workers of America represented workers.
The report found that over two decades there were:
- between 18 and 33 percent fewer traumatic injuries at union mines, compared to non-union operations;
- between 27 to 68 percent fewer fatal accidents at union mines (the range in figures accounts for possible statistical variations because of small sample sizes).
Need a Lawyer?
If you are a coal miner and need legal representation on a mine safety issue, we suggest you contact:
P.O. Box 22446
Lexington, Ky 40522
Above all else, coal companies should be diligent about the safety of their workers and the conditions inside their mines. Officials responsible for enforcing mine safety laws should do so wihout interference. And elected leaders should strengthen those laws when the need is clearly demonstrated.
Unfortunately, none of this happens as it should.
An examination of 320 coal mine deaths from 1996 to 2005 by Ken Ward Jr. of the Charleston Gazette found that 91 percent of those deaths could be traced to a serious safety violation, including not performing required safety checks, poorly maintained equipment, roof control and ventilation violations, and inadequate training.
The disaster that killed 29 miners at the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia in April 2010 reminds us that not enough has changed since Ward's report. Yet legislation to address some of the enforcement issues brought to light by this tragedy is stalled in the U.S. Congress.
KFTC has established this space to provide news, analysis and opinions about mine safety issues. We'll update the list below as new articles and reports become available.
Last week the Kentucky Senate passed two bills that essentially would shut down the state’s inspections of coal mines by eliminating required inspections (Senate Bill 297) and reducing safety training for mine foremen (Senate Bill 224).
If you wish to attend one of our KFTC lobby days, fill out this form to let us know you're coming. We will be meeting at 9 a.m. in the Capitol Annex cafeteria.
Sponsored by the Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition, focused on economic transition, miner safety and fair coal severance usage. Young lobbyists should contact KSEC Coordinator Cara Cooper.
Two "friends of coal" prove they are no friends of coal miners with bills to gut safety inspections.
The state of Kentucky would stop inspecting coal mines for safety violations under a Senate bill filed Thursday, leaving the job entirely to federal inspectors, who visit mines less frequently.