Kentucky is looking to cut costs and it looks like mine safety inspections are taking a hit as a result. The state announced that mine safety inspections are going to be reduced and replaced with coaching sessions on miner safety habits. Analysts will observe work sites and workers habits.
The law allows officials to replace half of the six required inspections with analyst visits, in which the safety officials will coach and train miners. Officials say that the new laws actually will increase the presence of safety officials in mines. If officials, who are there for coaching, see a problem they can still call for increased inspections if they feel it is warranted, and they can write citations.
West Virginia tried to pass similar cuts but the backlash was significant and lawmakers did not decrease mandatory inspections from four to one like they had discussed. Federal inspectors still visit mines four times a year, in addition to state required inspections.
Mining has declined slowly in the region and the amount of inspectors has declined with it. In 2015 there were 282 mines and 64 inspectors and analysts in Kentucky. In 2010 there were 513 mines and 121 analysts.
Proponents of the law say that it is better to focus resources on observations and individual attention than to spend resources on inspections if things are going smoothly at the mines.
Opponents are concerned about a reduction in inspections, saying that sometimes it is the mine company officials who put workers in unsafe situations and they are not the result of actions by the workers themselves.
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