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


Tony Oppegard
P.O. Box 22446
Lexington, Ky 40522

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.

Stronger regulations needed for black lung

Word that the number of new black lung diagnoses has doubled in the last decade underscores the need for the Obama administration to move quickly on new, more stringent federal mine safety regulations limiting the amount of breathable coal dust found in the nation’s coal mines.

Kentucky mine inspectors were lax in Harlan County

Only after The Courier-Journal published a story about a federal mine inspection finding numerous violations did state officials conduct their own inspection, finding 37 violations at a mine that they had visited 30 times in the past three years, often finding no violations. The federal agency has cited the mine for 149 violations so far this year, and shut down the mine for 9 days in May.

Black Lung rule loopholes leave miners vulnerable - part 2

Thousands of coal miners continued to suffer and die from black lung during the 40 years that tough new limits on exposure to coal dust were supposed to provide protection.

As Mine Protections Fail, Black Lung Cases Surge - part 1

A joint investigation by National Public Radio and the Center for Public Integrity found that the incidence of the disease that steals the breath of coal miners doubled in the last decade, according to data analyzed by epidemiologist Scott Laney at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

Kentucky surface miners hit hard by black lung, study finds

A new assessment of black lung disease by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found a higher than expected rate of the disease among workers on surface mine operations. The occurrence of the disease is higher in Central Appalachian states, including Kentucky.


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