House passes bill to increase coal miner safety, improve inspection process

Special to the Enterprise

FRANKFORT — The Kentucky House of Representatives passed a hard-hitting measure to change the underground mine inspection process to improve miner safety and lessen injuries.

House Bill 384 will reduce the number of required annual inspections, in exchange for allowing the Department of Mine Safety to use inspection resources for actual safety measures, such as addressing human error. Behavioral issues, or human error, are the cause of 94 percent of underground mine injuries.

House Bill 384 will allow more flexibility to the department in mine inspections, rather than simply following federally mandated inspection guidelines, which in many cases don’t address safety issues that actually cause injuries.

“This is a real coal miner safety measure,” said Rep. Tim Couch, R-Hyden. “This approach will place our mine inspectors and analysts’ underground, to talk to miners, to explain to them that the bolts they are drilling could break their hands, or that the cable they are handling could break their backs. It gives the much-needed hands-on safety approach that will truly protect our miners.”

This commonsense measure will equip the Department of Mine Safety to explain firsthand to miners the safety measures that can actually prevent injury, and in some cases save lives. Specifically, the bill will replace up to three of the six required annual underground mine sections with mine safety analysis visits and reduce the minimum number of annual full electrical inspections from two to one.

House Bill 384 will now head to the Senate for consideration.

Special to the Enterprise

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