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.

Coal and Kentucky

It's the job of federal and state regulators to ensure that coal is mined safely and in a way that doesn’t do violence to the environment. The U.S. EPA has shown some concern about the environment, concerns that Kentucky officials apparently do not share. And mine safety laws and their enforcement continue to fall short of what is needed to protect miners' lives.

Coal mine safety bills stalled

More than two years after the worst single mining tragedy in 40 years – at Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia – legislation to address some of the conditions that led to that diaster is stalled in Congress.

Kentucky is No. 1 in delinquent fines for mine-safety violations

Coal companies operating in Kentucky are delinquent in paying more than $29 million in fines for mine safety violations – some dating back nearly 20 years – including violations that led to the deaths of miners. The analysis by The Courier-Journal found that many companies continue to operate and get new permits while their fines go unpaid.

Gov. Beshear's Special Guests

Gov. Steve Beshear has been cozying up with big coal executives even more than usual in the last year.

A story this morning by Tom Loftus in The Courier-Journal revealed that Don Blankenship, the former CEO of Massey Energy who was in charge when 29 miners were killed at the Upper Big Branch Mine in 2010, was was part of the governor's Derby Day entourage this year.

Coal Lobby Has Grown Since Upper Big Branch Disaster

The amount of money coal industries poured into federal lobbying has increased since the fatal explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia.


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