John Kelly, age 55, was a coal miner who was operating a scoop car and moving some supplies when suddenly a metal door fell on him, causing his death. The heavy airlock door used to contain the air from the mine came crashing down on Kelly at the West Mine of the Dana Mining Company, located near Mount Morris, Pennsylvania. Paula Kelly, his wife and estate administrator, filed a claim of wrongful death that is underway in Greene County.
The U.S. Mine, Safety and Health Administration issued a report on the incident. They said that the door weighed over 400 pounds and was incorrectly installed based on the recommendations of the manufacturer. The named defendants include Dana Mining of Pennsylvania LLC, Mepco Inc., and Jack Kennedy Metal Products, the door manufacturer. The mining company is accused of failing to install, maintain, and inspect the door according to specifications, as well as failure in training their workers.
Several months after Kelly’s death, another miner at the same location was killed by a rock which fell into the mine passage. Data Mining is planning on closing the site in June, which will eliminate roughly 370 jobs. Reasons for the mine’s closure include poor conditions and excessive production-related expenses, which has limited the ability for the company to compete in the market. A vice-president with Mapco Inc. declined to comment on the matter.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) is an agency that regulates many aspects of the mining industry–including worker safety. They adhere to the standards established with the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 as well as the New Emergency Response (MINER) Act of 2006. MSHA enforces rules regarding health and safety for mines based in the U.S. and serves as a resource for technical compliance and educational assistance. The agency has worked to improve the often poor working conditions that are traditionally associated with the mining industry.
The federal mining laws apply in all states and dictate health and safety requirements. Individual states are encouraged to adopt further standards and requirements as long as they do not conflict with the federal guidelines. Several states have taken their own initiatives to further enhance the health and safety standards, largely in response to many widespread and persistent problems.
In Pennsylvania, the state entity that works to regulate the coal mining industry is known as the Board of Coal Mine Safety. The agency is a division of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. The Pennsylvania Bituminous Coal Mine Safety Act was implemented in 1996 to further safety standards related to mining. The agency is governed by a board of seven individuals that consists of representation from both the United Mine Workers of America, as well as management of the leading coal mining companies. Their most notable recent initiative involved revising the way that work accidents are reported and documented.