Following the fourth mining fatality in the state’s coal mines in two weeks and the sixth since November, West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin asked coal companies to halt production for an hour to review safety procedures on Feb. 20.
Tomblin signed an executive order urging operators to hold a “safety stand-down” with employees within 24 hours starting Feb. 20. Inspectors and mine-safety officials plan to visit about 500 mines.
“West Virginia's coal mining industry can thrive only if mining operations are conducted as safely as possible and in accordance with the mandatory health and safety laws and regulations aimed at preventing accidents,” Tomblin said. “I’m asking all coal companies and their employees to take this safety check seriously — we need to do everything we can to ensure all of our coal miners are safe.”
West Virginia Coal Association President Bill Raney attended the press conference along with a number of coalfield county legislators. Coal Association lobbyist Chris Hamilton spoke regarding the association's support of the safety check.
The most recent fatality came when a worker at Pocahontas Coal Co.’s mine near Sophia was struck by a scoop and died of his injuries. The death was the mine’s second this month.