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Orange County, California

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John Bisnar
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Feds Shut Mine – 22 Violations Discovered

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Mining Company Covered Up Prior Explosion

Pennsylvania regulators have stripped a coal mine operator of its permit because they say the operator covered up the cause of an explosion two years before a miner was killed there in a similar blast, according to an Associated Press news report. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection ordered R&D Coal Company to shutter its Buck Mountain Slope Mine where 43-year-old Dale Reightler was killed in a blast triggered by methane gas in October.

Federal investigators apparently found that in 2004, four workers in the same mine were injured in an explosion they have now found was also sparked by methane gas. But R&D had then claimed that it was caused by a pipe with a faulty gauge. The mine was allowed to reopen after installing safety equipment. According to Associated Press, the investigation also found the company had violated 22 laws including allowing uncertified miners to blast rock and coal and failing to properly measure methane levels before detonating explosives.

As a law firm representing victims of serious on-the-job injuries caused by an unsafe work environment, we are disgusted by this incident. This demonstrates the height of irresponsibility, callousness and disregard for human life on the part of an employer. Whether it is a company that manufactures plastics, chemicals or other materials that involve other hazardous substances, it is the duty of the employer to ensure that all their employees are well-trained and experienced in safety procedures.

As an employee, you may have suffered from injury or an occupational disease. These may be covered by Worker’s Compensation laws, tort law or both. In some cases, an employee’s on-the-job injury may be caused by someone other than the employer. Such cases may fall into categories such as traffic accidents, defective products, defective equipment or exposure to toxic substances.

For example, Bisnar|Chase won a seven figure case for a worker who suffered a catastrophic, on-the-job injury after other law firms concluded that the injured worker had no rights other than his Workers’ Compensation benefits. The worker suffered third-degree burns to 75 percent of the front of his body and had over a million dollars in medical expenses. It was a miracle he survived. We pursued a case against the supplier of materials that exploded when the worker was cutting 55-gallon drums for disposal.

For more information about mine safety, visit the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s Web site at www.msha.gov, which is a division of the U.S. Department of Labor. They have a lot of useful information about how to prevent mining accidents and how to report them, if and when they happen.