US Democratic lawmakers have proposed legislation that could see mines with poor safety records swiftly shut down in a bid to prevent a repeat of a mining accident in West Virginia earlier this year.
The proposed bill is set to increase penalties for serious violations, grant mine regulators the power to subpoena documents and testimony, and offer greater protection to miners who complain about safety problems.
Under the proposal, miners will have the right to refuse to work in unsafe conditions and won’t lose pay if their mine is closed for safety reasons.
Leaders of the House and Senate committees said the bill is needed to fix a flawed system that came to light after the accident at the Upper Big Branch mine that killed 29 miners.
The House Education and Labor Committee chair Rep. George Miller said mine operators who callously and repeatedly put their workers in danger must be held accountable, reports Associated Press.
The current system allows mining companies to file lengthy legal appeals that delay the finding of a pattern of violation.
The proposed mine safety bill is set to be introduced in the House this week.