Jessica Lilly Published

UMWA: 'check on your buddy' during government shutdown

UMWA president Cecil Roberts

The United Mine Workers is reminding miners to stay safe during the government shut down. Three miners died in just as many days over the weekend. 

UMWA president Cecil Roberts is urging all miners to be especially careful at work.

Roberts said, “check on your buddy,” and “watch each other’s back.”

On Friday 62-year-old Roger R. King from Moundsville was killed after an accident at CONSOL Energy’s McElroy mine in Marshall County. He was employed as a longwall maintenance coordinator and had 42 years of mining experience.

A miner from Illinois died Saturday and another from Wyoming on Sunday. The investigations are ongoing.

This is the first time in 10 years that three miners have died three days in a row.

The deaths have occurred since the federal government shutdown began early last week. The standoff in Washington has cut back the number of mine inspectors—those working at the mining academy and field offices where specialists evaluate ventilation and roof control plans.

In the statement Roberts said he’s not trying to draw premature conclusions, but said, “it is extremely troubling that within a week after the federal government shutdown caused the normal system of mine safety inspection and enforcement to come to a halt, three miners are dead.”

MSHA sent out a release on Monday urging operators to follow safety regulations. Joe Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health said the rash in deaths “is a red flag.”