Given the complexity of coal production and the enormous number of regulations mining companies must obey, it is not surprising that some rack up large numbers of safety violations. But most companies move swiftly to eliminate hazards once they are made aware of them.
Unfortunately, few do not.
A tiny minority, as West Virginians have learned to our sorrow, actively work to circumvent state and federal mine safety inspectors.
U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration officials say pattern violators of safety and health rules will not be tolerated. To that end, MSHA is unveiling new rules to make it more difficult for repeat violators to avoid paying fines and possibly having their mines shut down.
This is good and a long-needed weapon to help ensure the safety of miners will be a company's first concern.
Again, companies that work in good faith with state and federal regulatory agencies should not be targeted in the crackdown. But the new POV - for "pattern of violations" rules - should be enforced harshly against those who would endanger coal miners.