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Charleston WV Personal Injury Law Blog

Mining companies cited for fatalities

Two fatal workplace accidents that occurred last year recently became an occasion for citations to be issued for violations of safety rules. The citations were issued by the West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health, Safety and Training against two companies responsible for the accidents. One of the accidents occurred in Marshall County, while the other occurred in Raleigh County only days later.

According to the agency, a total of eight citations were issued in connection with the Marshall County accident, which included allegations of failure to use protective equipment and other unsafe work practices. For the Raleigh County accident, a total of six citations were issued, which included allegations that the mining company failed to ensure a vehicle was properly maintained. As unfortunate as these accidents are, the circumstances which gave rise to them are all too common in the mining industry. 

Distracted driving: a hard habit to beat, and a potential liability, P.2

In our last post, we began speaking about the increase in highway accidents in 2015, and how this is at least partly due to an increase in distracted driving. As we mentioned, states have attempted to battle the phenomenon of distracted driving by passing bans on texting and cell phone use.

Here in West Virginia, restrictions on cell phone use by drivers are primary laws, meaning that a law enforcement officer can cite an offender without having any other basis. This is different from secondary distracted driving laws, which can only be enforced when an officer witnesses some other violation taking place. 

Distracted driving: a hard habit to beat, and a potential liability, P.1

West Virginia readers are no doubt aware, like most Americans, of the dangers of distracted driving and the need to act responsibly when dealing with a cell phone while driving. The issue has received a lot of attention from safety advocates, law enforcement agencies, automobile manufacturers and insurance companies because the impact on highway safety is so significant.

Recent statistics from the National Safety Council show that, despite the efforts to combat distracted driving, the battle just isn’t going that well. The number of traffic deaths increased by 11 percent during the first four months of this year compared to last year, a rather significant increase. According to the council, the biggest factor contributing to the increase is distracted driving, which accounts for 27 percent of all auto accidents, with an estimated six percent being testing-related accidents and 21 percent being related to talking on a cell phone. 

Hours of service violations important to explore in truck accident cases, P.2

In our last post, we began speaking about the important issue of truck driver safety, especially as it pertains to the issue of driver fatigue. Truck driver fatigue is one of the major concerns underlying the hours of service regulations, if not the main concern, and any truck accident case where fatigue is an issue should include careful consideration of the possible violation of these rules.

Picking up where we left off, another rule included in the hours of service regulations is the weekly driving limit. Under this rule, a trucker is not permitted to drive more than 60 hours over 7 consecutive days on the job, or more than 70 hours over 8 consecutive days. The rule allows drivers to restart their work week after taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty. 

Hours of service violations important to explore in truck accident cases, P.1

Many of our readers have probably heard about the highway accident in which actor-comedian Tracy Morgan was involved last year in New Jersey.  On Tuesday this week, federal officials with the National Transportation Safety Board confirmed what has been known for some time about the crash—namely, that driver fatigue and truck safety are important issues raised in the case.

The statement was undoubtedly based on the fact that the Wal-Mart truck driver who rear-ended the vehicle in which Morgan was riding had been severely fatigued from prolonged lack of sleep. The accident was also caused by speeding, which led to a chain reaction crash affecting a total of six vehicles and 21 drivers and passengers. Still, truck driver fatigue has been a major focus of the crash, as it is a significant issue for truck safety in general. 

Agency releases numbers on mining injuries for first half of 2015, P.2

In our last post, we began discussing statistics on mining accidents recently released by the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration. As we pointed out, these accidents reportedly occurred in a variety of circumstances, including transportation of materials and being struck by falling materials.

Sources said the most common occasion for mining accidents, though, was the use of machinery and powered haulage. The risk of accidents occurring in connection with machinery is well known, of course, and mining companies have their own ways of dealing with those risks, adequate or inadequate. Given the seriousness of workplace safety in mining operations, regulators certainly don’t just allow companies to do whatever they want in terms of safety. Rather, companies are bound by certain standards that they can be held accountable for following.

Agency releases numbers on mining injuries for first half of 2015, P.1

Mining is a dangerous industry by any standard, and recent statistics released by the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration are a reminder of that fact. According to the agency, a total of eighteen workers died in mining industry accidents between January 1 and June 30 this year.

Of the 18 workers who died during the first half of the year, 10 of them were killed in the metal and nonmetal mining industry, while eight were killed in coal mining accidents. Two of the former deaths apparently occurred in underground mines, while the other eight occurred at surface mines. The eight coal mining fatalities occurred in a variety of circumstances, including machinery mishaps, transportation of materials, and falling materials.  

Lawmakers, regulators grapple to improve trucking safety, P.2

In our last post, we spoke about a recently proposed bill that seeks to address some of the issues believed to be contributing to truck accidents across the nation. That bill would address issues of concern not only to truck drivers, but also to truck safety advocates. As we mentioned, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recently added its own two cents to the truck safety dialogue by proposing changes to the way crash risk is measured by a program known as Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA).

Compliance, Safety, Accountability is a program overseen by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration which has the goal of collecting safety performance and equipment maintenance data and making that data publicly available. The idea is that public reporting of safety performance will help reduce the incidence of trucking accidents

Lawmakers, regulators grapple to improve trucking safety, P.1

Those who have been paying attention to trucking safety issues in recent months know that there is a lot of talk about making changes to federal truck safety regulations and passing measures addressing the causes of truck accidents. Making effective changes in Congress and at the regulatory level would not be that difficult to do if everybody could agree on exactly what changes need to be made.

The problem, of course, is that the trucking industry and safety advocates cannot agree on many issues,, and lawmakers are torn as well. While the industry is concerned about issues like efficiency, flexibility, and independence, safety advocates often want to impose restrictions and requirements to reign in safety risks. A bill proposed in the U.S. Senate earlier this month by Senator Cory Booker highlights some of these concerns from both angles. 

Safety regulation enforcement, workers’ compensation go hand in hand

Not all industries are created equal in terms of the risks workers face on the job. When it comes to the gas and oil industry, these risks are significant. With the increase in the use of hydraulic fracturing, the problem has grown both in frequency and severity.

Governor Tomblin, in an effort to address the problem, issued an executive order earlier this month establishing a commission that will have the task of reviewing and evaluating federal and state laws regulating workplace safety within the oil and gas industry here in West Virginia. The overall aim of the commission will be to ensure that workers are as safe as possible within the framework of the industry. 

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Office Locations in Charleston, Logan and Summersville, West Virginia

Office Locations in Charleston, Logan & Summersville, West Virginia

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