By Ben Geman - 04/23/10 09:14 PM EDT
The hearing will be the first on Capitol Hill to address the April 5 explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia the killed 29 workers, the nation’s worst mining disaster in four decades.
“This hearing will examine weaknesses in our laws that provide incentives for companies to ignore the health and safety of workers – such as inadequate penalties and the excessive delays that employers can create in challenging citations,” a committee announcement states.
“These issues will be explored both in the context of mine safety and non-mine workplaces, where this is an equally prevalent problem, but will not explore the scientific causes of the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster due to the ongoing investigation,” the committee said.
Committee Chairman Tom HarkinTom HarkinGrassley challenger no stranger to defying odds Clinton ally stands between Sanders and chairmanship dream Do candidates care about our health or just how much it costs? MORE (D-Iowa) and other lawmakers, including Sen. Jay RockefellerJay RockefellerLobbying world Overnight Tech: Senators place holds on FCC commissioner Overnight Tech: Senate panel to vote on Dem FCC commissioner MORE (D-W.Va.), are exploring changes to mine safety laws. Rockefeller said April 20 that he expects legislation that toughens safety rules to reach the floor this year.
Here’s the witness list for the April 27 Senate hearing:
Joe Main, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health, Washington, DC
Cecil Roberts, President, United Mine Workers, Triangle, VA
Jeff Harris, Mine Worker, Farley, WV
Wes Addington, Deputy Director, Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center, Whitesburg, KY
Bruce Watzman, Senior Vice President, Regulatory Affairs, National Mining Association, Washington, DC
David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, Washington, DC
Peg Seminario, Director of Safety and Health, AFL-CIO, Bethesda, MD
Holly Shaw, Philadelphia, PA
Dr. Michael Brandt, Board President (2010-2011), American Industrial Hygiene Association, Los Alamos, NM
Kelli Heflin, Coordinator of Regulatory Compliance and Safety Manager, Scott’s Liquid Gold, Denver, CO