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Kentucky House Bill 119 puts miners’ lives at risk

February 26, 2009
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A bill introduced in the Kentucky House of Representatives, House Bill 119, would roll back important protections for miners and would “once again put profit first and safety last for thousands of miners in the state,” United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) International President Cecil E. Roberts said today.

    “This legislation, if passed, would significantly raise the risk for miners in smaller mines throughout the state,” Roberts said. “Reducing the number of Mine Emergency Technicians (METs) to a single person puts miners right back to where they were before the state passed critical mine safety improvements in 2007.”

    The UMWA objects to H.B. 119, sponsored by Rep. Keith Hall (D-Phelps), on several grounds:

•    If more than one miner is injured in an incident, more than one MET would be required to assist those injured miners, especially if those miners are in separate areas of the mine;
•    If the MET is injured, there will be no one to assist him or other miners;
•    If a MET refuses or is unable to treat an injured miner, the second MET can.

    “It is especially troubling that this legislation is sponsored by a House member who has a direct financial interest in its passage,” UMWA International Secretary-Treasurer Dan Kane said.

    “Rep. Hall needs to remember that his first and only responsibility as a member of the legislature is to the citizens of the communities he represents, including the miners who live and work there, not to his own bank account,” Kane said. “It is, frankly, an outrage that he has brought this bill forward at all. Every responsible member of the legislature has a duty to reject this legislation, and quickly.”

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