Two mines owned by Gov. Jim Justice are among only three across West Virginia that failed to install life-saving technology to prevent miners from being crushed to death by fast-moving machinery in underground coal mines on the job.
The two McDowell County underground mines, Pay Car 57 and Pay Car 58, missed the deadline to install proximity detection systems, which shut down underground mining machines before they get too close to workers, according to violation reports obtained by the Gazette-Mail.
The systems would save miners from one of the most common causes of injury and death: being crushed by machinery. Across the country, 35 miners died by being pinned, crushed or struck by continuous mining machines in underground coal mines between 1984 and 2015, according to the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration. Proximity detection systems, which include a machine-mounted component and wearable tag, could prevent 50 injuries and 10 deaths nationwide over the next decade, according to MSHA.
The state’s top inspectors started urging officials to require proximity detection systems as early as 2008, but the Board of Coal Mine Health and Safety didn’t vote to mandate it until 2014.