This Day in Workplace Safety History: Sago – Restricted Area

A surge in West Virginia’s Sago mine on January 2, 2006 trapped 13 miners underground and catapulted mine security into the country’s consciousness like no other workplace catastrophe in decades. Only one miner of the 13 made it through. Subsequent mine explosions and fires in the Aracoma and Darby mines, in addition to various other coal mine accidents, largely originating from increased mine activity (as a result of higher energy rates), neglected maintenance, collapsing infrastructure and inadequate training caused 47 coal mining deaths in 2006, a ten year high and more than twice as many as the previous year. Malfunctioning respirators, poor communication between miners and the surface area added to the disasters.

More essential, the coal mine disasters of ’06 exposed the Bush administration’s abdication of its obligation to make sure safe offices for this country’s miners. Investigations by aggressive press reporters like the deep-sixed many guidelinesthat would have avoided or reduced the effects of the mine accidents, cut the number of mine inspectors, failed to cite security violations and failed to gather fines from those mining companies that were mentioned. The mining disasters of 2006 revealed to Americans the human toll of the Bush administration’s close ties to the industries it was expected to manage. No longer able to reject that the Emperor was as naked as a jaybird, in record time, Congress extremely passed the MINER Act which began the process of implementing needed improvements in the country’s mine security law. New mine safety laws were also passed in West Virginia and Kentucky.

The brand-new federal and state laws doubled to 2 hours the amount of emergency situation air products miners should have with them at work and needed mines to store additional air loads underground. Other changes mandated more rescue groups and bought mines to set up modern communications and tracking gadgets and emergency situation shelters to assist caught miners survive, to name a few things.

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