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***MEDIA ADVISORY*** TOMORROW: Committee to Examine Massey Negligence and Enforcement Failures at Upper Big Branch Mine

On Tuesday, March 27 at 10:00 a.m., the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce, chaired by Rep. John Kline (R-MN), will hold a hearing entitled “Learning from the Upper Big Branch Tragedy.” The hearing will take place in room 2175 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

On April 5, 2010, an explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine in Montcoal, West Virginia killed 29 miners and severely injured two more. It was the worst mining disaster in 40 years. In the aftermath of this fatal tragedy, both an investigation of the accident by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) and an internal review of MSHA's enforcement actions were initiated. Additionally, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis requested the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to conduct an independent assessment of the internal review.

On December 6, 2011, MSHA released the findings of its investigation, which concluded a complete disregard for important health and safety standards by the mine operator, Massey Energy, caused the explosion. Both the internal review released on March 6 and the NIOSH independent assessment released on March 22 document a number of enforcement errors by MSHA that failed to address Massey safety violations. According to the independent assessment, "If MSHA had engaged in timely enforcement of the Mine Act and applicable standards and regulations, it would have lessened the chances of – and possibly could have prevented – the UBB explosion."

Tuesday’s hearing will provide members an opportunity to examine the findings of the accident report and the separate reviews of MSHA’s actions. To learn more about this hearing, visit


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Panel I

The Honorable Joseph A. Main
Assistant Secretary
Mine Safety and Health Administration
United States Department of Labor
Arlington, VA

Panel II  

Dr. Jeffery Kohler
Office of Mine Safety and Health Research
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Pittsburgh, PA 

Mr. Cecil Roberts, Jr.
United Mine Workers of America
Triangle, VA 

Mr. Howard L. Shapiro
Counsel to the Inspector General
Office of Inspector General
United States Department of Labor
Washington, D.C.

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