You are hereThe Hill: Former Massey worker says he quit because of ‘poor’ conditions in mine

The Hill: Former Massey worker says he quit because of ‘poor’ conditions in mine


April 27, 2010- A former Massey Energy Co. employee told a Senate panel Tuesday that he quit because he was “scared” the mines he worked in were unsafe.

“In the end, I quit my job with Massey because I couldn’t take the poor conditions in the mine,” Jeffrey Harris told the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. “I am here to tell you about some of the things I know from my time working at Massey mines, things [that] aren’t right and which shouldn’t be allowed to continue.”

The hearing was the first to specifically examine mine-safety laws after an explosion at Upper Big Branch in Montcoal, W. Va., killed 29 miners, the worst mine disaster in four decades.

An investigation by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) is ongoing, but federal investigators and outside experts have focused on Massey’s history of safety violations at the mine.

Joe Main, head of MSHA, pledged at the hearing to step up enforcement of mine-safety laws, including increasing fines for violations. He also called on Congress to make it easier for federal regulators to shut down problem sites and increase criminal penalties for violations of mine-safety laws.

Harris said he worked as a roof bolter for six months in mines owned by Massey, including at the Upper Big Branch mine. He now works at the Harris Mine No. 1, operated by Patriot Coal Co.

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