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The West Virginia economy was built on industry, and to this day mining remains a cornerstone of our way of life. In fact, West Virginia is coal mining country. Only Wyoming produces more coal per year than we do.
According to the West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health, Safety and Training, coal was first discovered in the Mountain State 1742 in Boone County, forever changing the course of our history and the history of industry in the United States. Today over 30,000 West Virginians are directly employed in the coal mining in what has become a multi-billion dollar industry.
Along with big business comes regulation. With the goal of creating a safe working environment, federal laws were passed creating guidelines for best practices in the mining sector. Often well intentioned, mechanisms used to regulate industry can also be used for fraud by unscrupulous people.
In order to protect against false and frivolous claims, or claims that are unsubstantiated or inflated, effective and experienced legal counsel is available to evaluate the circumstances, provide advice, and to litigate if necessary.
Counsel seasoned and knowledgeable to the needs of the mining industry is a required tool in the contemporary business climate. A firm with years of experience investigating and litigating claims that raise red flags is a must have when even a fictitious injury allegation can cause reputational damage in the media. However, even if the threat of false claims didn’t exist, the regulatory landscape is a jungle in and of itself.
The Mine Safety and Health Administration
The MSHA was created by the Federal Mine Safety Act of 1977, and is the agency charged with enforcing health and safety laws within the mining industry. To further its mandate, the MSHA has authority to regulate and inspect both surface and underground mines. Beyond the administrative tasks required of mining companies to be compliant in their industry, companies also must be aware of the steep financial penalties for violations and potential criminal penalties for knowing and willful code violations.
Adding to this complicated regulatory scheme, Congress has recently passed more legislation increasing the administrative burden on mining companies. The Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act (or MINER Act) was passed in 2006. Besides increasing civil fines, this new law created an affirmative duty to design emergency response contingencies and has provisions dealing with sealing abandoned areas and rescue teams.
West Virginia has its own series of regulations, further augmenting the requirements that the modern mining operation must be aware of and adhere to. Permitting and certification laws are yet another challenge to meet for the law abiding business person.
Rely On Our Firm to Protect Your Best Interests
Hendrickson and Long PLLC represents companies of all sizes and guides them to be compliant with regulation and to defend against specious injury claims. We’ve been around for decades and have established a well deserved name as advocates who will fight tooth and nail for our clients both before, during, and after trial. Don’t hesitate to contact us at our Charleston office at 304-346-5500 and let us know how we can serve your legal needs.