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Donald L. Blankenship, whose leadership of Massey Energy Company transformed him into one of the wealthiest and most influential men in Appalachia, was sentenced on Wednesday to a year in prison for conspiring to violate federal mine safety standards. Twenty-nine workers were killed in a 2010 explosion at the company’s Upper Big Branch coal mine in Montcoal, W.Va. Prosecutors claimed Blankenship contributed to an unspoken conspiracy that employees should ignore safety standards if they threatened profits.
(The New York Times)
Violation Reforms ‘Game Changer’ for Mine Safety
Reforms to the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration’s pattern of violations (POV) process—started in part because of the Upper Big Branch coal mine explosion—have been “a game changer in mine safety and health culture,” according to Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health Joseph A. Main.
Coal Mining Fatalities Drop to Historic Low
Coal mining deaths fell to the lowest level on record in 2014 while fatalities at metal and nonmetal mines saw a slight increase, according to preliminary data released by the Mine Safety and Health Administration.
Hiring in Mining Industry Declines
Employment in mining continued to decline from November to December (-8,000). After adding 41,000 jobs in 2014, mining lost 129,000 jobs in 2015, with most of the loss in support activities.
Federal Mine Safety and Health Act (Mine Act)
The Federal Mine Safety and Health Act (Mine Act) covers all mine operators and miners throughout the U.S.
Dana Wilkie is an online editor/manager for SHRM.
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