Two Emergency Medical Techs is Too Many for Small Coal Mines, Kentucky Lawmaker Says

SOURCE: Safety+Health | March 27, 2024

Frankfort, KY — A bill that would reduce – to one from two – the number of mine emergency technicians required during each shift at small underground coal mines is advancing in the Kentucky Legislature.

METs are miners trained to provide emergency medical care and stabilize an injured worker’s condition.

Under the bill, one MET would be required at mines with 15 or fewer workers, and two would be required per shift at underground mines with 15-51 miners. For each additional 50 miners on a shift, one more technician would be needed.

The legislation is sponsored by Rep. Bill Wesley (R-Ravenna), who claims the bill would help keep small mining operations going during a downturn in the industry.

“There have been coal mining shifts, or basically the whole coal production, shut down … because one MET did not show up for work,” Wesley said. “Nobody got paid. Everyone was sent home, and I think that this is a needed bill to help all the coal miners.”

Opponents, including Rep. Ashley Tackett-Laferty (D-Martin), counter that it would weaken safety in underground mines and provide minimal financial benefit to small mining companies.

“It truly troubles me to think that we could potentially be trading the safety of our coal mining families for what appears to be a nominal financial benefit, if anything at all,” Tackett-Laferty said on the House floor. “The safety practice of having an emergency medical technician onsite is not what’s causing these mines to close.”

H.B. 85 was approved by the Kentucky House with a 75-18 vote on March 11. It’s now under consideration by the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee.

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