Mine Safety Bill Passes Kentucky's House

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A bill that would double mine inspections and provide better equipment to coal miners in emergencies has passed the Kentucky House.

Legislators unanimously endorsed the bill this afternoon. It now heads to the senate for consideration.

Coalfield lawmakers have praised the bill, saying it protects miners without being a burden for coal operators.

The bill would double yearly state inspections at mines to four from two. The bill also requires mine operators to store emergency oxygen supplies underground and requires all underground coal miners to wear tracking devices.

Under the bill, operators must report an accident within 15 minutes of the event.

To make companies more proactive in complying, stiffer fines will be imposed for flagrant violators of safety rules.

The legislation became a priority after a series of fatal mining accidents, including one in West Virginia that killed 12 miners last month.

According to the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration, Kentucky led the nation last year in the number of mine deaths with eight people killed on the job.