State cites producer in miner's death

APPALACHIAN producer Massey Energy did not provide proper supervision of an apprentice miner who died at a southern West Virginia operation in October, a state report has revealed.

Donna Schmidt

According to the Charleston Gazette, the West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health, Safety and Training cited the company’s Independence Justice No. 1 complex with four violations that contributed to the death of Steven Cain, 32. Cain died October 8 after being crushed between a mine wall and rail car.

A high-voltage power cable was hanging too low for supply car passage, and Cain was going to hold the cable up for a unit to pass under. Another miner then found Cain’s body on the mine floor, according to the newspaper.

The agency’s report concluded that the operator had not "effectively supervised" the worker and had permitted him to work in an unsafe location.

The supply car, the Gazette added, was so fully loaded that the driver could not see Cain, and three non-contributing violations to the incident included poor maintenance of the mine’s supply locomotives and track switches.

WVOMHST spokeswoman Jama Jarrett confirmed that the report has been completed but that it has not yet been publicly released. Officials for the agency did not offer comment to ILN Tuesday by press time.

A Massey spokesperson told ILN that the producer had not yet seen the state’s report to review, and therefore could not yet comment.

Cain, an employee of contract firm Mountaineer Labor Solutions, was still a red hat – he had just four months of mining experience.