Cutting corners when it comes to employee safety is something that more times than not will catch up with employers.
In a recent case of the law winning, a longtime Massey Energy Company executive pleaded guilty to a pair of federal crimes in connection with an ongoing investigation of Massey.
According to information from the United States Attorney’s Office (Southern District of West Virginia), David Hughart, 53, of Crab Orchard, West Virginia, admitted in a guilty plea that he conspired to impede the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) and conspired to violate mine health and safety laws.
Hughart, the former president of Massey’s Green Valley Resource Group, is the highest-ranking official charged to date in an ongoing federal investigation.
Conspired to Violate Health & Safety Laws
“Mine safety and health laws are not optional," said U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin. "This prosecution reiterates the message that mine safety violations are very serious crimes."
In his guilty plea, Hughart admitted that he and others at Massey conspired to violate health and safety laws and concealed those violations by warning mining operations when MSHA inspectors were arriving to conduct mine inspections. Hughart is believed to be the highest-ranking mine official ever convicted of conspiracy to impede MSHA or conspiracy to violate mine health and safety standards.
Standards Designed to Prevent Dangers to Miners
Coal mines in the United States are subject to an array of mandatory federal mine health and safety standards designed to prevent dangers such as explosions, roof collapses, and fires. MSHA conducts frequent, unannounced mine inspections to monitor compliance with those requirements. When MSHA inspectors find violations of health and safety requirements, mine owners are subject to monetary penalties and, in some cases, production shutdowns until violations are corrected.
Hughart faces up to six years in prison and a $350,000 fine when he is sentenced on June 25.
Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com. Contact: email@example.com.
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