CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Tomblin administration is not moving forward with language in West Virginia's new mine safety bill that could require tougher safety training at coal-mining operations that routinely violate state regulations.
Eugene White, director of the state Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training, said his agency has not yet used its authority to take action when coal operators repeatedly allow hazardous working conditions.
The new "pattern of conduct" provision was added to West Virginia law as part of a mine safety bill passed in March 2012 and touted by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin as "comprehensive" legislation.
Under the change, the state office is now required to take action if the director determines that his inspectors have found "a pattern of conduct creating a hazardous condition at a mine."
The law says that White's agency must, after such a finding, notify the state Board of Miners' Training, Education and Certification of that finding. Then, the board is required to "cause additional training to occur at the mine" to address the safety problems and hazards found at the operation.
During an interview last week, White said his agency has created a new form for inspectors to use when they want to report a "pattern of conduct" to supervising inspectors or agency headquarters in Charleston. So far, though, no such reports have been submitted.
"Has anyone filled one of those out yet? No," White said.
The forms have space for agency staff to list the name of the company and the mine, and to outline the number of violations, accidents or safety complaints at that mine.