West Virginia authorities have issued citations against two mines after wrapping up official investigations into deaths in two separate workplace accidents at two separate facilities.
In the first case, a man died after the truck he was driving flipped as he drove it down a path into the lower part of a surface mine. The maintenance of the truck was apparently the mining company's responsibility, and officials cited the company for not keeping the truck's brakes in good repair. The company did not immediately dispute the conclusion but said it would have to compare the investigation report with its own internal findings.
In a separate incident, another man died and three employees suffered injuries during a "roof and rib" fall. For those who are unfamiliar with mining, the roof and rib is basically the top of the mine. If it gives, then people are likely to be both injured and trapped underground. In this case, the company was cited for not maintaining control of the roof of the mine so as to prevent a partial collapse.
Some were not happy with the results of the second inspection. A representative of a prominent miners' union suggested that West Virginia regulators should have singled out responsible managers of the mine for individual fines. The state officials simply declared that they did not have enough evidence to take such an action. The mining company went further, accusing the representative of making grandiose statements without proof.
West Virginians should remember that not everyone who works at a mine is necessarily a mine employee who is eligible for workers' compensation or other benefits. Families of loved ones who die in a mining accident, including employees, may be able to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit depending on the facts of the case.
Source: Insurance Journal, "Regulators in West Virginia Cite 2 Companies in Fatal Mine Accidents," Sept. 3, 2015