Mine Safety Bill

By: Jeff Allen Email
By: Jeff Allen Email

A new mine safety bill is drawing opposition from some who say it will only make the mines more dangerous.

House Bill 119 is designed to reverse a safety measure put in place two years ago as part of overall state mine safety laws.

At issue is the number of Mine Emergency Technicians required to be on duty.

New mine safety laws passed two years ago were prompted by accidents like the one that killed "Bud" Morris in 2005.

Morris' widow talked to WYMT’s Jeff Allen about why she thinks the new law is a bad idea.

On December 30th, 2005, "Bud" Morris was hit by a ram car in the H & D mine in Harlan County.

Both of his legs were nearly severed.

“The co-owner of the mine was the only met there that day, and he freaked out, he didn't instruct the other guys on what to do or anything like that,” Stella Morris said.

Morris eventually bled to death.

But his wife Stella believes her husband would have survived if a second mine emergency technician was on duty at the time of the accident.

“So had there been somebody else there, Bud would be with us today, most definitely, we know that,” Stella said.

Sweeping Kentucky mine safety legislation in 2007 required two M.E.T.s to be on duty at all times.

House Bill 119 proposes to take away that requirement if the mine has less than 18 workers.

It is designed for smaller mining operations that have trouble sustaining two M.E.T.'s all the time. But Bud Morris' widow says no matter how many miners are underground, two are needed.

“What if you're the M.E.T. and you get hurt? Who's going to help you? You can only hope you're conscious enough to say you need to do this or you need to do that,” Stella said.

Morris says she can not bring her husband back, “We can't bring Bud back, but my brothers, nephews, I have all kinds of family in the mines still, and I don't want this to happen to them.”

She says she will do whatever it takes to continue to fight for their safety.

House Bill 119 is sponsored by Keith Hall, Ted Edmonds and Ancel Smith, but we were unable to reach them for comment.

Legislators are expected to sit down with mine safety advocates next Wednesday to talk about the bill.


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