May 19, 2008 The Pump Handle 0Comment

Nathan Dove, an underground coal miner, was electrocuted on Friday night at Massey Energy’s Aracoma/Alma mine in Melville, Logan County, WV.  Mr. Dove was 24 years old. 

This is the same mine which was given a safety award by MSHA about a month ago (see “Safety Awards Gone Bad” ) and in January 2006, was the place of death for Mr. Don Bragg, 33 and Mr. Ellery Hatfield, 46.  No information about the incident which killed Mr. Dove is provided yet on Massey’s, MSHA’s or the State’s webpages.

In my post, “Safety Awards Gone Bad”, I reminded readers that just one year ago, MSHA issued a record-setting $1.5 million penalty against Massey for its ”reckless disregard for safety” in the disaster which killed Bragg and Hatfield.  Between January 1, 2006 and April 1, 2008, this mine has been cited for nearly 1,200 violations of MSHA health and safety standards, with 665 of them designated “serious and substantial.”  Moreover, this Massey operation has been assessed more than $2,226,000 in monetary penalties, and they’ve only paid $35,651.  The vast majority of the violations are being contested, including the dozens of penalties associated with the Aracoma Alma disaster which are classified as “reckless disregard” for miners’ safety. 

Upon receiving MSHA’s safety award, Massey Energy’s CEO Donald Blankenship said:

“Safety is our top priority at Massey, and we are pleased that MSHA has again recognized our members’ unwavering commitment to working safely everyday.  Our Aracoma members had a very difficult year after the tragedy in 2006, but they responded by pulling together to create a culture of safety.”

This statement is BIG on “member’s” responsibility for safety, but fails to mention anything about the company’s obligation.  I hope this isn’t a hint about how Massey will spin the circumstances of the coal miner’s death.  A “culture of safety” seems to only go so far, especially when a  worker is injured seriously or killed.   Let’s pray that “blame the victim” doesn’t rear its ugly head.   


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.