By Ben Geman - 05/14/10 02:20 PM EDT
Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) on Friday provided a broad outline of mine safety improvements he’s seeking in response to the April 5 explosion at West Virginia’s Upper Big Branch coal mine that killed 29 workers.
Rockefeller’s office, in a press release, said he is working on “new legislative approaches” on workplace safety that include:
* Additional workplace safety enforcement and accountability standards through the Mine Safety and Health Administration and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
* Streamlining Pattern of Violation rules and regulations so that repeat offenders are subject to additional oversight and enforcement.
* Reducing the appeals backlog at the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission in order to prevent companies from avoiding responsibility simply by filing appeals.
* Improved whistleblower protections to empower miners and all workers to report dangerous conditions.
* Increased fines and penalties for companies that routinely violate safety laws and regulations.
Rockefeller is also proposing amendments to the Wall Street reform bill on the Senate floor that would force mining companies to disclose information about safety hazards to the Securities and Exchange Commission.