1/04/2006

Mourn the Miners

All Americans should pause for a few minutes to take a moment of silence for the miners who lost their lives in West Virginia.

Although the number of coal mine fatalities has dropped to record lows and the mining industry has managed to keep employee deaths to fewer than 50 every year since 1993, it's still a dangerous place to work. (See Mine Safety Watch)

In 2004, the Sago Mine, near Tallmansville, W.Va., reported an injury rate that was three times that of similar-size underground mines across the country, the Charleston (W.Va.) Gazette reported.

U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration data shows that during the last six months of 2005, the mine also reported a dozen accidental roof falls, the newspaper said. During their last three complete examinations of the Sago Mine, MSHA inspectors cited the company for more than 180 violations.

The Tallmansville, West Virginia mine where 12 workers lost their lives was cited by inspectors for 46 alleged violations of federal mine health and safety rules during an 11-week review that ended Dec. 22, according to records. The more serious alleged violations, resulting in proposed penalties of at least $250 each, involved steps for safeguarding against roof falls, and the mine's plan to control methane and breathable dust. The mine received 208 citations from MSHA during 2005, up from 68 citations in 2004.

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