Coal Mining Safety

March 17, 2006 • Volume 16, Issue 11
Are underground miners adequately protected?
By Pamela M. Prah

Introduction

A makeshift memorial at the Barbour County courthouse honors David Lewis, one of 12 West Virginia coal miners killed following an explosion in the Sago mine in early January.  (Getty Images/Mark Wilson)
A makeshift memorial at the Barbour County courthouse honors David Lewis, one of 12 West Virginia coal miners killed following an explosion in the Sago mine in early January. (Getty Images/Mark Wilson)

The year has started off tragically for the coal industry, which provides the fuel to generate half the nation's electricity. The deaths of 12 men in an explosion at the Sago mine in West Virginia — and nine more mining fatalities soon afterwards — have raised questions about whether the nation's 75,000 coal miners are adequately protected. Critics say the Bush administration rarely penalizes mine operators who violate safety rules. But the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) says its strict enforcement has led to the lowest number of fatalities in history — just 22 deaths in 2005 compared to 66 in 1990. West Virginia already has passed tougher state rules, and its congressional delegation advocates similar protections nationwide. Meanwhile, MSHA has issued new rules requiring coal operators to report accidents within 15 minutes and to stock more breathing devices underground. The agency also is testing the reliability of wireless communications and tracking technologies used in Australia but rarely in the U.S.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Coal Industry
Jun. 17, 2016  Coal Industry's Future
Jun. 24, 2011  Mine Safety
Oct. 05, 2007  Coal's Comeback
Mar. 17, 2006  Coal Mining Safety
Apr. 21, 1978  America's Coal Economy
Oct. 25, 1974  Coal Negotiations
Nov. 19, 1954  Coal in Trouble
Apr. 04, 1952  Coal Supply and European Rearmament
Jan. 22, 1947  Labor Costs and the Future of Coal
Jul. 24, 1935  Stabilization of the Bituminous Coal Industry
Jan. 01, 1929  The Anthracite Coal Situation
Dec. 01, 1928  The Bituminous Coal Situation
Jun. 30, 1927  The Bituminous Coal Strike
Aug. 15, 1925  The Bituminous Coal Problem
Aug. 01, 1925  Strike Emergencies and The President
Jul. 25, 1925  Miners' Wages and the Cost of Anthracite
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Coal
Mining
Workplace Safety and Worker's Compensation