MSHA: Coal Companies Are Illegally Warning Miners When Inspectors Arrive

03/23/2012 10:35 am ET | Updated May 23, 2012

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — The Mine Safety and Health Administration says coal companies are still illegally warning miners when federal inspectors arrive.

Director Joe Main says February impact inspections suggest current penalties aren't a sufficient deterrent.

MSHA announced Thursday it issued 235 citations and eight orders at U.S. coal mines in February, including 23 citations and three orders at Upper Cedar Grove No. 4 near Wharncliffe.

The Glen Alum Operations mine was closed after inspectors confirmed anonymous tips of problems. Violations included inadequate pre-shift inspections, inadequate or missing firefighting equipment, and accumulations of combustible material.

MSHA also issued 32 citations at Clintwood Elkhorn Mining Inc.'s Laurel Branch Surface Mine in Hurley, Va.

Violations included accumulation of combustible materials on the engine compartments of heavy equipment and failure to protect workers from inhaling rock dust.