Worker safety in mines
The Bush spokesman for the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration confirmed on January 28 that the Agency had failed to issue penalties for hundreds of citations issued since the year 2000. He implied that the problem had occurred in the Clinton Administration, as well, but could not provide documentation. The preliminary data confirmed by the spokesman documented 4000 unsafe citations issued by the MSHA between January of 2000 and July of 2006, for which no penalty had been assessed.
The MHSA "discovered" the problem when someone attempted to confirm whether a penalty had been assessed against a negligent mine owner after a miner bled to death in a December 2005 incident. The miner had not received first aid after his injury: the MHSA spokesman acknowledged that the company had never been fined, but claimed that it was fined the maximum penalty of $60,000.00 on the 18th of January, 2007, after the issue was brought to the Agency's attention.
This is not the first worker safety issue encountered by the Bush Mine Health and Safety Administration. In earlier blogs, we discussed the controversial non-enforcement stance that may have contributed to other recent mine deaths in the United States. In November of 2006, the U.S. Department of Labor's Inspector General released an audit showing that the MHSA had failed to carry out required inspections at 15 percent of the nation's coal mines. If this is how "compassionate conservatives" look out for the health and safety of workers, we may as well just admit that we are leaving it to the owners, alone, to decide whether they will operate within the law.
You may read the New York Times article "Mining Agency Finds Penalties Lapse" here