FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MARCH 1, 2022
UMWA opposes West Virginia legislation reducing health and safety in coal mines
[TRIANGLE, VA.] United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) International President Cecil E. Roberts issued the following statement today:
“The idea that anyone in the state of West Virginia believes we need less enforcement in the coal mining industry is outrageous.
“But House Bill 4840 would do just that, by eliminating the ability of the West Virginia Office of Miners Health, Safety and Training (WVOMHST) inspectors to actually enforce our state’s safety laws.
“I cannot understand why any responsible legislator would believe the outright elimination of an entire state agency’s enforcement power would keep miners safer at work.
“Last year, West Virginia alone accounted for 50% of all coal mine fatalities in America. Just this morning, we received a call that a miner in southern West Virginia, with twenty years of experience, died in a mining accident.
“The first agency on the scene this morning was not MSHA, it was the state. The state inspectors arrived on-site almost an hour before MSHA was able to get there.
“So, to say we need less protection from the state, less safety and less enforcement in the coal mining industry makes zero sense.
“This bill would remove the state agency’s ability to properly investigate an incident. Statistics show that when you have good laws and regulations, and they are enforced, fatalities decrease. That is where we need to be headed.
“This is a bad bill and will put West Virginia miners’ lives at risk.