According to a report from the Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General, many worker complaints regarding mine safety issues are not being dealt with in a timely manner. One coal district that covers a large area west of the Mississippi River took 47 minutes on average to tell mine operators about imminent threats. Another five Mine Safety and Health Administration districts took an average of 40 minutes to respond to threats.
In Region 9, complaints take longer to get to mine operators because they first go to a field office before reaching the operator. The report stated that at the MSHA’s Hazardous Condition Complaints center, operators don’t receive proper training or have access to standard scripts to help them through phone calls. This lead to 12 percent of call reports missing details such as what equipment wasn’t working properly or where the hazard was.
A series of test calls found that operators failed to ask follow-up questions or tell callers that they had the right to remain anonymous. One representative was said to have restarted a script in the middle of a phone call, which meant that the caller had to answer the same questions more than once. In response to the report, the chief of the MSHA said that he agreed with some if not all of the findings.
Those who are involved in a workplace accident may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits may make it possible to recover lost earnings or pay for medical bills. An attorney could help those who have questions about their case or have had their claims denied. Legal counsel might be able to review the case and take action to help a worker get what he or she is entitled to.