States cut safety checks as coal dwindles, upsetting critics

DYLAN LOVAN, Associated Press

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Kathy Bartlett watched helplessly this spring as Kentucky lawmakers cut back on mine safety inspections and replaced them with coaching sessions on miners’ safety habits.

She knows more than most what is at stake.

Her son, Rickey Thorpe, was crushed to death in a western Kentucky underground mine in 2015. The mother says the state shouldn’t reduce the number of traditional inspections.

But state officials say the law doesn’t ease enforcement. They say it lets them work with miners on safe working habits.

Appalachian coal states like Kentucky have seen a slowdown in mining and are looking to trim the required number of annual inspections.

Federal inspectors are required by law to conduct four inspections a year on underground mines.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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