Big Financial Hits for Mine Operators Keep on Coming

A $440,000 wallop in flagrant penalties for only two citations has been issued against Wabash Mine Holding Co. after MSHA conducted a routine inspection at the company's Wabash Mine in Wabash County, Ill., the agency said yesterday. These six-figure penalties are becoming routine as the agency carries out the dictates of the MINER Act.

"Mine operators that show reckless disregard for the well-being of their workers must be held accountable for their actions," said Richard E. Stickler, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "It was highly likely that a miner would have been seriously injured if these conditions were allowed to persist, and the purpose of this enforcement action is to prevent accidents and injuries from occurring in the first place." The two citations allege Wabash Mine Holding Co. failed to adequately support the mine's roof and failed to follow the approved roof control plan.

A flagrant violation is defined as "a reckless or repeated failure to make reasonable efforts to eliminate a known violation of a mandatory safety and health standard that substantially and proximately caused, or reasonably could have been expected to cause, death or serious bodily injury." The MINER Act allows a civil penalty of up to $220,000 for each flagrant violation, as MSHA did in this case.

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