It says the state has yet to commit itself to the goal of a safe and healthy mining industry.
"That commitment must start with legislative commitment of the resources needed to communicate that the state is serious about creating and enforcing a system of mine safety," the report says.
The report addresses two of the issues raised in the lawsuit, brought by lawyers from the public-interest firm Mountain State Justice on behalf of a working coal miner and a coal miner's widow.
First, the report recommends that the state require mine operators to install technology that would stop underground mining equipment when it comes too close to miners. Safety experts say that these proximity-detection systems can save miners from being crushed or pinned by fast-moving mining machines.
The lawsuit has alleged inaction by both the state mine safety office and the state Board of Coal Mine Health and Safety on rules that would require these systems.
Second, the report calls for lawmakers to reverse their action -- taken in early 2010 -- to eliminate a slot for a seventh mine safety board member who could break ties. By law, the board's six members are now equally divided between industry representatives of United Mine Workers officials. Previously, the director of the mine safety office, a gubernatorial appointee, served that tie-breaking role.
The lawsuit alleges that the new board makeup sets up a situation where no safety initiatives can be pursued because of repeated 3-3 votes.
Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kw...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.