Massey Energy has just filed documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission about Monday’s horrific mine disaster, including a letter in which CEO Don Blankenship has this to say about safety practices within his company and at the Upper Big Branch Mine:
The safety of our members has been and will continue to be our top priority every day. Media reports suggesting that the UBB tragedy was the result of a willful disregard for safety regulations are completely unfounded. Our lost-time incident rate has been better than the industry average for 17 of the past 19 years, improving significantly in recent years. These improvements have been achieved through concerted effort and significant investment.
At Massey, safety is everyone’s concern. We are committed to instilling a culture of safety through our S-1 (Safety First) program. S-1 combines training, mentoring, monitoring, safety innovation, and risk reduction. We continue to invest in the development of safety innovations that exceed industry and regulatory standards. Our past innovations have become industry standards such as the Massey reflective stripes on miners’ clothing and flapper pads on roof bolting equipment. More recently, we have developed proximity devices that automatically shut down equipment if a person gets too close. We are also working on a revolutionary new miner helmet that will provide improved safety as well as convenience. Our safety efforts and accomplishments are well known and acknowledged by our industry.
Since the passage of the Miner Act in 2006, we have worked hard to implement the requirements of the Miner Act, including the usage of tracking devices and shelters.
Media coverage on the UBB incident has referred to safety violations issued to UBB by MSHA without placing the numbers in context. Since January 2009, UBB has had less than one violation per day of inspection by MSHA, a rate consistent with national averages. We do not condone any violation of MSHA regulations, and we strive to be in compliance with all regulations at all times. Most of the citations issued by MSHA to UBB in the last year were resolved on the same day they were issued.