As a personal injury lawyer in Chicago, I am both saddened and disappointed in the West Virginia Mine explosion that caused 25 needless deaths. Quickly after the explosion, news surfaced that the Massey Energy coal mine had a less than stellar record for safety, which appear to have been more like slaps on the wrists than actual orders to change.
This week, reports suggested that “The Massey Energy coal mine where 25 people died in an explosion was cited for violating for two federal safety violations on the day of the blast” (T. Huber, AP Charleston, WV, 4/7). Mine Safety and Health Administration records do not indicate whether the citations were issued before or after the explosion, but emphasizes the carelessness surrounding the deaths.
Underground coal mines are required by law to have detailed escape maps showing escape routes, oxygen caches, and refuge chambers, and records show “one of the violations involved inadequate maps of escape routes from the Upper Big Branch mine. The other involved an improper splice of electrical cable on a piece of equipment.”
Unfortunately, a continuous pattern of rule breaking was not addressed appropriately, and an unnecessary tragedy occurred. I sincerely hope changes are made swiftly to ensure the safety of the mining industry at large.