Another coal miner is killed at the Affinity Mine - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Local psychiatrist offers stress advice after mine tragedies

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The following statement was released by local psychiatrist Hamlet Smith in the wake of the recent mine tragedies around West Virginia:

"With recent events related to tragic fatalities in local mines, I feel it's a good idea for our community to be able to identify normal stress reactions to these events contrasted with when this stress becomes distress.

A person often experiences difficulty with trauma in four main ways:

1. Reliving the traumatic event

2. Hyper-vigilance, a preoccupation with possible, unknown threats

3. Avoidance behavior, an attempt to avoid any stimuli that arouses a recollection of trauma

4. Psychological numbing, feeling like the world is surreal and having a difficult time relating to other people.

In every trauma, you will see people experience these things. But, if symptoms persists or peoples lives are interrupted because of these symptoms, it may be time to seek professional help."

You can find more details here: http://behavenet.com/acute-stress-disorder

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Mine safety leaders issued a statement on Wednesday, Feb. 20 over the number of mine deaths that have happened across the United States.  In less than a month there have been six, including the four that have happened in West Virginia since the beginning of February.

 

The accidents have happened over a two week period starting on Wednesday, Feb. 6 when Brandon Townsend, 34, of Delbarton died after a hydraulic jack exploded on a belt press. The accident happened at Midland Trail Energy's Blue Creek preparation plan.  Just one day later Edward L. Finney, 43, of Bluefield, Va., was killed at the Affinity Mine when a hoist moved unexpectedly as he was pushing a scoop bucket insert full of trash onto it.

Then on Tuesday, Feb. 12 Glen Clutter, 51, of Baxter died of severe head injuries when he tried putting a loaded supply car back on track at CONSOL Energy's Loveridge Mine.  The tragedies continued a week later on Tuesday, Feb. 19 when John Myles, 44, of Hilltop died at the Affinity Mine as Myles was shoveling coal ribs.  This was the same mine where Finney died.

Below is the complete text of the release from Joseph Main, the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health.

"Yesterday, the coal industry marked its sixth mining fatality in less than one month. Four of those deaths occurred in West Virginia. Starting Thursday morning, MSHA inspectors, supervisors and managers will travel to coal operations throughout the state to alert miners, mine operators and miners' representatives about this alarming trend. Our enforcement personnel will be armed with detailed handouts and will talk directly to mine operators and miners, reminding them about the critical need for safe work practices.

"Mine operators need to make sure that they are conducting proper mine safety examinations to find and fix hazards, and they need to make sure that miners are properly trained to do the jobs they are assigned, particularly activities not part of their normal routine.

"I applaud today's directive by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin,who called for a stand down for safety at all coal mines. Also, I have spoken with West Virginia Office of Miners' Health Safety and Training Director Eugene White, and MSHA and the state have agreed to work together on this effort.

"By tomorrow morning, MSHA's goal is to have a written alert describing these six tragedies -- along with best practices for preventing them -- on our website and on the desk of every coal mine operator in the country. The industry is coming off two of the safest years in mining in this country. The six deaths that occurred over the last month are tragic and unacceptable,and MSHA will take whatever actions are necessary to ensure the safety and well-being of all our miners."

-- Joseph A. Main, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health

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United Coal issued the following press release concerning the fatal accident at the Affinity Mine in Raleigh County.

 

"At approximately 7:15 p.m. on Tuesday, February 19, 2013, an employee at Pocahontas Coal Company's Affinity mine was fatally injured from being struck by a scoop while working on the section.

The employee, John Myles, 44 years old and a resident of Hill Top, West Virginia , was a shuttle car operator in underground operations. The company is working with state and federal investigators to complete a thorough investigation of the incident. The investigation is incomplete at this time.

We are deeply saddened by and concerned about these events. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Mr. Myles during this difficult time."

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59News has discovered that Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D-W.Va.) will be calling a safety stand down at all mines in West Virginia on Wednesday, Feb. 20.

 

That stand down will begin at 1 p.m. with a press conference from Charleston.  We are working to get this conference streamed live to the web.

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Officials with the West Virginia Office of Mine, Safety, Health and Training have confirmed with 59News that John Myles, 44, of Hilltop, W.Va., died on Tuesday, Feb. 19 from injuries he received while working at the Affinity Mine in Raleigh County.  Myles was hit by a scoop as he shoveled coal ribs.

Myles was a shuttle car operator who had a total of four year's experience as a miner. He had worked at this mine for one year and two months prior to the accident on Tuesday which happened at around 8 p.m. .

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59News has confirmed with the Mine Safety and Health Administration that there has been another miner killed at the Affinity Mine.

Leaders with MSHA said that a miner was struck by a scoop in the evening hours of Tuesday, Feb. 19.  He was taken to Raleigh General Hospital where he reportedly died.

MSHA is investigating the incident.  The name of the miner has not been released at this time.

This is the second time this month that a miner has died at the mine in the Sophia area.  That miner was also killed while operating a scoop.

The Affinity Mine is operated by Affinity Coal Company. 

59News is working for you to determine the details.  Watch for updates here and on 59News.