Four coal workers were killed within the first eleven days of the government shutdown, according to reports. The deaths add to the mounting 2013 coal miner death toll, which lists 18 fatalities as of Oct. 17. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) announces each fatality on their website but the site was not being updated during the government shutdown.
Roger King, 62, of Moundsville, West Virginia suffered a serious head injury on the job on Oct. 4 and died on the way to the hospital, according to reports. The following day, Robert Smith, 47, of Norris City, Ill., died of massive blunt trauma after a cart he was operating landed on top of him. The next day, Wyoming bulldozer operator Mark Christopher Stassinos, 44, was killed when his vehicle went over a 150-foot high wall. Just one week after King’s tragic death, Larry Schwartz, 59, of Mt. Carmel, Indiana, was killed in Indiana when he was apparently struck by a shuttle car that pinned him against the mine wall.
For mine safety advocates, the tragic fatalities are unneeded proof that the mining industry needs more regulation and monitoring. The company that owns the mine in which Schwartz was killed has gone on record saying that proximity detection devices, one of which may have stopped the shuttle car from pinning King to the wall, would lull miners into a false sense of security. MSHA inspectors have cited the same company 466 this year for safety violations. Last year the company was cited 625 times, including one order to remove workers from a mine where there was the threat of imminent danger.
For more information on mine safety and coal workers’ health, visit Mine Safety and Health News.