'Unprecedented Access' Promised in Mine Safety Hearings

MSHA did not provide dates of two public hearings into the Upper Big Branch Mine explosion but said Tuesday that they'll be streamed online.

Two public hearings stemming from the Upper Big Branch Mine explosion on April 5 will be held -- one where witnesses with knowledge of the mine, the mine operations, and the explosion testify, the other focused on technical aspects of the explosion based on the physical examination of the West Virginia coal mine and other evidence. MSHA announced them Tuesday but did not give their dates. Instead, the date and location for each will be announced at least a week in advance by notice in the Federal Register. Mine employees, company officials, federal inspectors, and others with knowledge of the incident will be invited to participate, and subpoenas will be issued if necessary, said the agency's announcement.

MSHA announced them the same day Massey Energy, which owns the mine, held its annual meeting in Richmond, Va.

The investigative team still has not entered the mine to examine it because of concern about gases caused by heating and/or fires, the agency said.

"All questioning at the public hearings will be conducted by a panel of MSHA and possibly state of West Virginia investigators," it said. "In addition, the secretary of labor will select an impartial hearing officer who is not affiliated with MSHA, the state of West Virginia, the company or any other interested party to chair a hearing. The hearing officer and those participating in the panel will be announced publicly prior to the hearing."

The announcement promised "unprecedented access for the public and the media, both in person and via streaming video on the Internet," adding that MSHA will post testimony and evidence at www.msha.gov and will accept public comments to be included in the final accident investigation report.

MSHA has the authority to hold public hearings and subpoena witnesses and documents under Section 103(b) of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977, and has used that power twice in its history.

Relatives of the 29 miners who died will be able to speak about the explosion at a public forum or in writing; these statements also will be made available on MSHA's website and will be considered in the final accident investigation report. MSHA also said it will conduct a town hall meeting to share best practices for creating a culture of safety at all mining operations and to gather recommendations for improving mine safety overall.

Download Center

HTML - No Current Item Deck
  • Free Safety Management Software Demo

    IndustrySafe Safety Management Software helps organizations to improve safety by providing a comprehensive toolset of software modules to help businesses identify trouble spots; reduce claims, lost days, OSHA fines; and more.

  • The Top 5 Safety and Technology Trends to Watch in 2019

    Get the latest on trends you can expect to hear more about in 2019, including continued growth of mobile safety applications, wearable technology, and smart PPE; autonomous vehicles; pending OSHA recordkeeping rulemaking; and increased adoption of international safety standard, ISO 45001.

  • Get the Ultimate Guide to OSHA Recordkeeping

    OSHA’s Form 300A posting deadline is February 1! Are you prepared? To help answer your key recordkeeping questions, IndustrySafe put together this guide with critical compliance information.

  • Safety Training 101

    When it comes to safety training, no matter the industry, there are always questions regarding requirements and certifications. We’ve put together a guide on key safety training topics, requirements for certifications, and answers to common training questions.

  • Conduct EHS Inspections and Audits

    Record and manage your organization’s inspection data with IndustrySafe’s Inspections module. IndustrySafe’s pre-built forms and checklists may be used as is, or can be customized to better suit the needs of your organization.

  • Industry Safe

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - January 2019

    January 2019

    Featuring:

    • PREVENTING ERRORS
      Production vs. Safety 
    • EMERGENCY SHOWERS & EYEWASH
      Meeting the Requirements for Emergency Equipment
    • CONSTRUCTION SAFETY
      The State of Contractor Safety
    • FOOT PROTECTION
      The Three Keys to Effective Chemical Management
    View This Issue