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Mine safety in the spotlight again

A coal mine that was the site of a tragic accident a little more than two years ago was back in the spotlight recently, as a memorial to the 29 men who were killed in an explosion at the mine was dedicated.

With Arizona being nicknamed "The Copper State," mine workers here should also be paying attention to how mine operators and the government work to prevent future disasters like the one that happened at the Upper Big Branch coal mine in April 2010.

Besides the loss of life, one of the larger tragedies about the Upper Big Branch explosion was that it might have been prevented. The mine and its operator had been cited numerous times by federal regulators for safety violations but it appeared that nothing had been done to address those violations before the explosion occurred.

One of the speakers at the memorial dedication, a U.S. senator, has been trying to get enhanced mine safety legislation passed through Congress, but it appears that there has been minimal traction gained on that front.

The proposed bill would protect whistle-blowers who try to report safety violations that their company is ignoring. It would also strengthen criminal penalties for ignoring safety violations. The proposal would also require mine operators to keep one log of safety and production data. The operator of the Upper Big Branch Mine had two logs, one that was accurately filled out for in-house use, and one for federal inspectors that had scrubbed many problems from it.

With a desire for more domestic energy production in the United States, mine operators have to remember to protect their workers while they also try to increase output. Mining is dangerous enough, workers shouldn't have to fear dying on the job because of someone else's negligence.

Source: Associated Press, "W.Va. dedicates Upper Big Branch Miners Memorial," Lawrence Messina, July 27, 2012

Negligence on the part of an employer is never permissible. If you've been injured in a work accident and are having trouble getting the compensation you are owed, contact our firm.

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Jerome, Gibson, Stewart, Stevenson, Engle & Runbeck, P.C., provides experienced representation for workers' compensation cases in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, Mesa, Gilbert, Glendale, Peoria, Avondale, Casa Grande, Flagstaff, Prescott, Tucson and Yuma, and throughout Maricopa County, Pima County, Pinal County and Yavapai County, and all of Arizona.

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