Kentucky Slackens Coal Mining Safety Inspections
Although mining technology has come a long way since its beginnings, coal mining can still be a dangerous job.
2017 saw a spike in coal mining deaths across the US with 15 fatalities (compared to 8 fatalities in 2016).
In June of the same year, Kentucky lawmakers reduced the amount of mine safety inspections and replaced them with coaching sessions by inspectors.
State officials can now replace half of the 6 required inspections with “analyst visits” that focus on coaching miners in safety habits.
These visits have been going on in Kentucky’s mines for decades — but as an addition to mandatory safety inspections.
Kentucky isn’t the only state that’s reduced its amount of safety regulations throughout the years. Illinois and Alabama have also reduced theirs, and Virginia only requires 2 annual inspections on underground mines.
As with any industry where safety is key, there are mixed feelings about the implications of this change and how it’ll affect the safety of miners moving forward.
Read on to discover how these changes in safety regulations could change the landscape of coal mining in Kentucky (and across the country).
Why the Changes in Safety Standards?
With the growth of alternative energies, Appalachian coal states like Kentucky have seen a slowdown in mining over the last century.
From 2010 to 2015, the number of mining inspectors and analysts dropped from 121 to 64. This is largely due to decreased federal funding.
In response to the decrease in mine personnel, the state’s law seeks to reduce the required number of annual safety inspections.
Regular and thorough safety inspections are critical to keeping workers safe in any industry that uses heavy machinery in potentially hazardous environments.
Tony Oppegard, a mine safety lawyer in Kentucky, said the majority of coal mine accidents are due to negligence by company officials.
But according to Kentucky state officials, the new law puts officials in the mines more often to work with miners on safe working habits.
Jim Vicini, director of Kentucky’s Division of Mine Safety, claims that studies show most mining injuries are caused by miners not practicing safe habits. And officials will be able to spot safety violations and offer citations during their analyst visits.
Safety Standards with Machinery
When heavy machines aren’t regularly inspected or properly maintenanced, it can lead to disaster on a mining site.
Overhead cranes a key component to many mining operations. This powerful machinery revolutionized miner’s abilities to lift and move heavy loads of coal, rock and more.
Regular inspections as outlined by OSHA are key to ensuring the reliability and safety of an overhead crane. From initial inspection after installation to a functional test inspection to frequent inspections, the expert crane inspectors at Crane Repair Co are first and foremost dedicated to the safety of your entire team.