UPDATE: Tomblin Says Mine Safety Talks Complete

By: Anna Baxter, Alex Snyder, The Associated Press Email
By: Anna Baxter, Alex Snyder, The Associated Press Email

UPDATE 3/7/13
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin says safety talks that he ordered for more than 500 West Virginia coal operations after a string of deaths are complete.

Tomblin ordered the one-hour talks with employees last month after four mining deaths in a period of two weeks.

Tomblin didn't provide details of the review during a six-minute speech Thursday at the 40th annual West Virginia Mining Symposium at the Charleston Civic Center.

The event is conducted by the West Virginia Coal Association.

State Office of Miners' Health Safety and Training spokeswoman Leslie Fitzwater says figures are still being compiled on the number of workers involved in the talks.

UPDATE 2/20/13 @ 11:05 p.m.
RALEIGH COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Jonathan Cain’s dad was a miner; so was his grandpa, and that’s why he didn’t want to follow in their footsteps. He’s heard too many times stories of injuries and deaths in the mines.

"People need to take more focus and work safer," Cain said.

But he says that safety in the mines should start at the top.

"Company can make sure everything's up to date and everything's going like it should," Cain said.

In light of the recent deaths at Affinity Mine in Raleigh County and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s safety stand down, one miner at Affinity, who wished to remain anonymous fearing repercussions, said the mines aren’t safe enough.

"I think the reason it's unsafe in the mines is because the miners are pushed to produce, they're not given sufficient time to rest," that miner said. "It's work, work, work, just go as hard as you can. Most places won't even let you sit down to have a lunch."

He says it’s the responsibility of the individual miner to stay safe, but the safety training provided by the company isn’t sufficient.

"Some of this work -- six, seven days a week, 12, 13, 14 hours a day -- let these men rest, get fresh minds, maybe they'd be a little more complacent and watch what they were doing," the miner said.

But it’s a catch-22. He knows working those long hours is what keeps miners’ families afloat; if they don’t work those long hours, though, then someone else will.

"And they push men to the limit to where they're tired and they just feel like they don't have a choice because they could be replaced in no time," the miner said.

UPDATE 2/20/13 @ 1:30 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin is asking coal companies to halt production for an hour to review safety procedures following the state's fourth coal mining fatality in two weeks.

Tomblin on Wednesday signed an executive order urging mine operators to hold safety talks with employees over the next 24 hours.

The move comes after 44-year-old John Myles of Hilltop was struck by a scoop Tuesday night and died of his injuries.

The death at Pocahontas Coal Co.'s Affinity mine near Sophia was its second this month.

Federal records show that mine has been cited for safety violations 65 times since January.

The company says it's concerned, but the two deaths appear unrelated.

State and federal investigations are under way.

Six miners have died in the past two-and-a-half months.

UPDATE 2/20/13 @ Noon
RALEIGH COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Another fatal mine accident is prompting West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin to issue a statewide mine safety stand down.

Tomblin will release details about the stand down at a news conference at 1 p.m. Wednesday.

The stand down comes after 44-year-old John Myles was killed at the Pocahontas Affinity Mine.

Myles was a shuttle car operator. He got hit by a scoop about 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Myles had four years of experience as a miner and had worked at this particular mine for more than a year. He's the fourth miner to die in West Virginia since the beginning of the year.

WSAZ.com will have a crew at Tomblin's news conference.
Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.

RALEIGH COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A fatal mine accident has been reported in Raleigh County.

A spokesperson with the Miner's Health Safety and Training tells WSAZ.com John Myles, 44, of Hilltop, W.Va., died Tuesday from injuries he received while working at Pocahontas Coal Mine’s Affinity Mine in Raleigh County.

Leslie Fitzwater says Myles was hit by a scoop as he shoveled coal ribs. The accident happened at approximately 8 p.m.

Myles was a Shuttle Car Operator at the mine with four years of experience as a miner. He has worked at the Affinity Mine for a little more than a year.

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