Does a Time Out for Coal Operators Work?

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin issued an order directing West Virginia’s coal operators to stop mining for one hour in response to the death of another miner last week.  Did it work?

Sources tell Underwood Law Office that Coal Miner, John Miles, died when the scoop he was operating flipped over on top of him.  He was loading an elevator.   Normally, the elevator has a kill switch which prevents it from raising or lowering while people or materials are being loaded.   However, this time, electricity in the mine shut off for a brief moment.  When it came back on, the kill switch did not work, and the elevator tried to return to the surface.  When it did, the scoop, which was partially inside the elevator, flipped over, crushing Mr. Miles.

The Governor’s Office states that the Executive Order is to cause coal mine operators to “thoroughly review applicable health and safety laws and regulations, communication protocols and any particularized safety issues apparent in their operations.”

We respect, and even personally like, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin.  We understand his undoubted frustration in wanting to do something.    However, we think that a one hour stop work order is like sending an entire kindergarten class to timeout for the actions of one child.

It would not seem to be a particularly effective punishment.  It punishes innocent miners as well as innocent coal operators with lost employment and production.  Surely, there has to be a better way?



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