The Times West Virginian


March 10, 2013

Zero must be number to aim for when it comes to safety in mines

There have been many advancements made in mine safety nationwide within the past 100 years.

Unfortunately, many of those advancements have come after tragedies within the industry. Consider the 1907 explosion in Monongah, caused by the ignition of methane gas and fueled by coal dust. We’ll never know the exact count of those who perished underground that day, though the death toll was reported at 362, because of the practice of taking young boys into the mines to increase productivity for families who were paid by the ton as opposed to by the hour.

In response to the explosion — the worst mining disaster in American history — Congress created the Bureau of Mines in 1910 to conduct research and to reduce future accidents in coal mines.

Again in 1968, tragedy struck another Marion County mine when 78 men were killed at the Farmington No. 9 mine. Public outcry prompted Congress to pass the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969. The far-reaching legislation expanded federal enforcement, required several annual inspections, increased safety standards and included miners’ rights to be proactive in the safety of their workplace by having the ability and responsibility to report violations.

Since then, safety at mines is considered paramount. And it takes industry leaders, lawmakers, union representatives and the owners of mines to continue to improve safety for the men and women who go underground each day to keep our lights on and the economy of our state moving forward.

Unfortunately, in an industry that uses large machinery in volatile areas, accidents still happen that claim lives. And we learn from each accident how better to protect current and future miners from such accidents in the future and how to improve rescue and recovery operations.

But the ultimate goal, of course, is to never have another mining disaster again.

Consol Energy President Nicholas DeIuliis told industry leaders and lawmakers during last week’s West Virginia Coal Association’s 40th Annual Mining Symposium that “zero” is the target number.

“We can’t be satisfied with just incremental improvements,” DeIuliis said. “The only acceptable result for everyone in the industry and everyone in the room should be zero fatalities and zero injuries.”

DeIuliis acknowledged that Consol has suffered two fatalities in Marion County since December. On Nov. 30, Markel J. Koon was killed when a coal slurry impoundment bank collapsed at the Robinson Run. On Feb. 12, Glen Clutter was killed after being hit on the head with a metal bar at the Loveridge Mine.

“We’ve suffered tragic fatalities ourselves within our company,” DeIuliis said. “Those fatalities have tested our spirit. It’s not just a statistic. It rips through families, communities and the entire industry.”

Six coal miners died nationwide within a 25-day period between late January and mid February, four in West Virginia, prompting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to halt operations on Feb. 20 at all state coal mines for one hour to review safety regulations with employees.

“We’ve lost too many miners in this state,” House Majority Whip Mike Caputo said during a press conference that announced the one-hour statewide safety halt last month. “These accidents can stop. Coal companies have to take time at every shift ... to make these men and women aware of what’s going on.”

One death is too many. We have to learn from every single incident and accident — fatal or not — and make sure that the environment we send our miners into each and every day is as safe as possible.

Zero is a good number to aim for — zero fatalities, zero accidents, zero tolerance for failure to maintain safety procedures and reporting.

Our state’s miners deserve nothing less.

Text Only
  • Time is now for Tomblin to support King Coal Highway

    U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., is asking Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to add the King Coal Highway project to West Virginia’s six-year highway improvement plan. It is a logical request, and one that Tomblin should act promptly on.

    July 29, 2014

  • United effort to keep NASA in Fairmont is essential project

    The high-technology sector is obviously vital to the economy of North Central West Virginia.
    That’s why a strong, united effort to keep the NASA Independent Verification and Validation Program in Fairmont is absolutely essential.

    July 27, 2014

  • COLUMN: Calling all readers: Be heard

    I love to talk to readers.
    I love to hear concerns they have about stories we’ve written, things they think should be included in the newspaper and things they think shouldn’t be.

    July 27, 2014

  • Korean War veterans are deserving of a memorial

    NEEDED: A total of $10,000 for the Korean War Memorial this year.
    And a good man has been placed in charge of the funding. Charlie Reese, former president of the Marion County Chamber of Commerce, is now director of the Marion County Development Office. His task was to make a recommendation as to what steps are necessary to keep the project moving.

    July 25, 2014

  • Roll up your sleeves, give blood and you can save lives

    It takes up to 100 units of blood to save the life of someone who sustains life-threatening injuries in a vehicle accident.
    We’re hoping that the number of people who come to Fairmont Senior High School on Friday for and American Red Cross blood drive will exceed that amount.

    July 24, 2014

  • Vehicles and motorcycles must share the road safely

    The days are long. The weather is superb. There’s plenty of leisure time in these lazy days of summer.
    It’s the perfect time to take a long motorcycle ride.
    It’s also the perfect opportunity for us to take the time to remind not only riders but drivers of the need to share the road. And we feel compelled to mention it because just within the month of July, there have been two motorcycle-versus-car accidents within the City of Fairmont alone — one with severe injuries sustained by the motorcyclist and the other with less serious injury.

    July 23, 2014

  • Too many taking too few steps to protect selves from skin cancer

    July 22, 2014

  • Distracted driving: It isn’t worth fine or a life

    Today marks the day that police agencies from six states are joining forces to crack down on one thing — distracted driving.
    And they will focus on that traffic violation for a solid week, with the stepped-up effort to curb distracted driving wrapping up on Saturday, July 26.

    July 20, 2014

  • COLUMN: Are we people watchers or people judgers?

    Let me tell you about my little friend Robby. Well, actually, it’s more about his family and especially his mom. I didn’t get her name. I heard Robby’s name quite a bit, though, during a trip home from Birmingham, Alabama.
    I noticed the family in the Birmingham airport immediately. They were just the kind of family you’d notice.

    July 20, 2014

  • Relish the rich bounty of state’s diverse, unique food traditions

    This week, a group of federal officials on a three-day culinary tour of the state visited the Greenbrier Valley to find out what most of us here already know — we have a rich food tradition in West Virginia.
    The group was made up of officials from the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

    July 18, 2014

Featured Ads
NDN Politics
House Ads