What happens when a coal miner videotapes serious safety issues inside a mine and shares the footage with federal mine safety officials? He gets punished by his employer, of course, and then has to file a lawsuit seeking cash.
Yay King Coal and the lovely labor practices this great country employs. Overlooking incidents like this is a great way for the Mine Safety and Health Administration to further improve its lovely image among everyone who pays attention to the world around them.
From the Herald-Leader:
On April 27 last year, Howard, a veteran miner, took video footage of seven mine seals at Cumberland River’s Band Mill No. 2 mine. The seals, constructed to close off abandoned sections of underground coal mines, are supposed to be impenetrable so that explosive methane gas can’t seep into working areas.
These seals were so cracked that water gushed through them, the lawsuit says.
Before videotaping the cracked and leaking seals, Howard had documented the problems in writing in a Cumberland River preshift examination book and had told company officials, including the mine superintendent, two mine foremen, and two section foremen, about the unsafe conditions, the lawsuit says.
After nothing was done, Howard testified at a public hearing held by the Mine Safety and Health Administration in July 2007 and showed those in attendance the video he had taken of the mine seals.
MSHA later cited Cumberland River for multiple seal violations.
After the company was cited, Cumberland River officials gave Howard “a written warning of disciplinary action” for “taking a non-permissible video camera underground.”
Regardless of whether Cumberland River had a company policy about videotaping underground, Oppegard said Thursday, Howard had the right under state law to document and report to MSHA unsafe conditions at the mine.