"Obama's An Idiot" is where my political bitches now live. Go ye thereto and read.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010


The media is at it again. No surprise there though:
W.Va. mine owner accused of putting safety second
The disaster at the Upper Big Branch mine has focused attention on the business and safety practices of the owner, Massey Energy, a powerful and politically connected company in Appalachia known for producing big profits, as well as big piles of safety and environmental violations and big damage awards for grieving widows.
Any time there is an accident, reporters immediately try to place blame somewhere, on someone. Anyone.

Look. I worked in a coal mine for over four years. I worked over two of those years as a "Fireboss". Firebosses earn that title by learning all the rules and regulations of both state and federal mine safety agencies. You then must pass a two day test to get your certification. Firebosses are not 'company' men. They are not administration. If it is a union mine, they are union members. If not, they are regular hourly employees. They are responsible for pointing out and fixing potential violations or safety hazards, relaying that information to the mine operators, and keeping the mine safe for the workers.
There are laws in place which say that if there is an area or circumstance that poses an unsafe situation, you either fix the problem or avoid the area until it gets fixed. In other words, it is up to the people who are working there to either fix a problem or not work in the area.

Many violations that inspectors cite owners for are are non-issues, or at least, minute issues.
For instance, you folks who work in an office, ever used a non-commercial toaster to heat up your bagel? Ever used a home appliance coffee maker in your office instead of a commercial coffee maker? OSHA doesn't appreciate either being used.

How about this, ever use a 6-way power strip when you didn't have enough outlets? Ever plug that heater under your desk in using an extension cord?
Sure, those might not pose an immediate danger, but they aren't safe and are probably even illegal in most instances.

One more, ever drive without using a seat belt or keeping both hands on the wheel? Ever cross the street outside a pedestrian lane? Not safe, but not necessarily something that puts you in immanent danger either.

Now I'm not going to say there is no pressure from operators to work in unsafe conditions. They want the mine to make money and down time and repairs don't produce coal. But even under pressure, you still have a choice. Fix the problem, stay out, or quit. If not, hurt yourself or someone else, or even die.
"You can be replaced." is a common statement. But it beats the hell out of "You'll never walk again."

So the portion of the story that the media overlooks constantly, is that maybe this accident could have been prevented by the very people who died in it. I'm not saying it was their own fault or that they intentionally overlooked things causing the accident. What I am saying is let's determine the cause before placing the blame, mmmmkay?



Anonymous said...

This is what I was lamenting to the wife last night. Specifically that when it comes to OSHA, no on is 100% compliant. The State Controlled Media is taking about violations but has made no effort to report exactly what those violations were. Insufficient ventilation is a big violation, a partially obstructed piss ditch is not. For all we know the "violations" in question relate to miners hanging their numbered chits the wrong way on the chit board.


curmudgeon said...

The mine management may have gotten a violation for someone not wearing their safety glasses while driving a machine.
Unsafe? Sure. For the individual. For the mine in general, nope.

Jean said...

If the media took time to research, somebody else might be first with the news. OMG!
When it comes to accidents, some things are ignoring common sense, some are gross negligence and some are, unfortunately, accidents.
Many years ago OSHA lost a lot of their authority and had their number of inspectors cut back. I'd say the really big business boys got tired of being watched.


curmudgeon said...

That and lawyers took center stage.