Mine Safety | Kentuckians For The Commonwealth

Mine Safety

Safer Union Mines

Mountains & miners deserve better

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:

Wes Addington
Appalachian Citizens Law Center
317 Main Street
Whitesburg, Ky 41858
606-633-3929
aclc@appalachianlawcenter.org

OR

Tony Oppegard
Attorney-At-Law
P.O. Box 22446
Lexington, Ky 40522
859-948-9239
tonyoppegard@gmail.com

Support Mine Safety graphicAbove 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.

sacraficed-forgotten mine safety graphic

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.

Whatever Happened to the RECLAIM Act? Mitch McConnell killed it.

We are two women who have different connections to Appalachia, but who share a passion for the mountains. Melissa grew up in Van Lear, the home of Loretta Lynn.  Her mom and dad still reside there. Many of her relatives worked in the mines, including both of her grandfathers. Rebecca lived much of her adult life in the hills of North Carolina.

Kentuckians are hurting, but Sen. McConnell does nothing

Kentuckians are hurting from the triple whammy of long-term economic distress, the COVID-19 health crisis, and collapse of jobs and income due to the pandemic. According to a recent story in the Washington Post, 1/2 of all adults in Kentucky have lost some employment income since March, 1/4 of all Kentuckians say they do not get enough food to eat, and 1/3 of all Kentucky households struggle to pay the rent or mortgage. 

Yet Sen. Mitch McConnell, arguably the most powerful member of Congress, seems to have turned his back on the people he represents, and millions of people in the United States.

Harlan County Resolution in support of Black Lung, RECLAIM Act and Miners Pensions 2018

In December 2018, the Harlan County Fiscal Court passed a local resolution calling on Sen. McConnell and all members of Congress to support and pass three measures needed to do right by our miners and communities. The resolution urges passage of the RECLAIM Act, stronger funding for the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund, and shoring up the federal fund that gurantees miners' pensions.

Morehead Local Resolution on Black Lung and RECLAIM Act, 2018

In the fall of 2018, the City of Morehead was among more than 14 local governments in KY to pass local resolutions urging Congress to pass the RECLAIM Act, Support miners pensions, and strengthen funding for the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund. 

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