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, 2003). In addition, any person may be found criminally liable who:
1. Gives advance notice of any inspection to be conducted under FMSHA;
2. Knowingly makes any false statement, representation, or certification in any application, record, report, plan or other document filed or required to be maintained pursuant to FMSHA; or,
3. Distributes, sells, offers for sale, introduces, or delivers in commerce any non-complying equipment for use in a mine, including components and accessories of such equipment, which is represented as complying with FMSHA or other relevant provisions (Cooper et al., 2003).
This legislation and the introduction of various innovations in mining safety techniques have resulted in improvements in the number of disasters and incidents that have taken place in U.S. mines over the years, but tragic-filled accidents continue to plague the industry from time to time and these issues are discussed further below.
Historic Incidence of Disasters and Incidents in U.S. Mines.
As can be seen in Figure 1 below, the number of mining disaster incidents and fatalities has leveled off in the past 30 years, but the number of mining disasters and incidents remains unacceptably high in view of the enormous amount of resources and legislation aimed at eliminating these events.
Figure 1. Mining Disaster Incidents and Fatalities: 1900-2006.
Note: A mining disaster is defined as an incident with 5 or more fatalities.
Source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 2007.
The need for improvements in mine safety is a recurring theme throughout U.S. history, but the attention paid this issue tends to ebb and flow between painful punctuations of mine disasters that attract the public's attention for awhile, only to be replaced by the next disaster de jour. For this purpose, the Mine Safety and Health Administration ("MSHA") has a more vigorous criminal enforcement program than OSHA; the number of criminal referrals from the MSHA under FMSHA has varied, though, over the past two decades (Cooper et al., 2003). Indeed, as Peters (2006) reports in his essay, "The Other Mine Disaster," "For more than three decades, I've been pointing out that while the media gives major attention to mine disasters, it does almost no reporting on what's being done to improve mine safety between disasters.…[continue]
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