Wednesday, January 4, 2006

Where is OSHA when you need them?

I can't stop thinking about those poor people in West Virginia who lost their family members to the coal mine explosion. You would think that in 2006 we wouldn't still be using coal for fuel or that human beings wouldn't still be doing the mining; it seems so 1880s to me. Heck, it's so 1980s as well.

I was especially saddened to hear this morning that false reports got to the family members that their were 12 survivors and 1 casualty, when it is the other way around, and that man still isn't conscious. Nothing like giving people false hope, giving them a miracle and then yanking it away. That was really irresponsible.

But what disturbs me most was reading this on
The administration has called for cuts to the Mine Safety and Health Administration, and the agency has shed about 120 coal-industry enforcement jobs since 2002, according to statistics compiled by Democratic congressional aides.

After President Bush took office in 2001, the administration pulled back a series of regulations proposed under President Clinton, including the requirement to upgrade miners' emergency respiratory devices and to add more mine rescue teams.

Three years ago, the White House wanted to increase the legal level of breathable dust that miners could be exposed to, but it backed away in the face of congressional opposition. And Democrats have criticized Bush administration officials for going after relatively small fines against offenders; of the 208 citations issued at Sago Mine, nearly half carried the minimum fine of $60, and none amounted to more than $900.

Something about this situation parallels itself for me with what happened after Hurricane Katrina with the levees, even though some of the details are different, of course. Poor people, place without a strong local economy or big business to back up the community, and the government doesn't make security and safety a priority, despite the health and safety risks to the people providing this service. I am not under the delusion that life is fair, but it would be nice if it could be a little less hazardous.

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