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National COSH: Blankenship deserves maximum sentence — but one year isn’t enough Stronger safety laws needed to protect workers and families.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016
Press Contacts:

Roger Kerson, 734.645.0535; [email protected]

The following statement on today’s sentencing of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship is from Jessica Martinez, acting executive director, National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH).

“Don Blankenship deserves the one-year prison sentence announced today — and more. One year is hardly enough to make up for the years and decades of life lost at the Upper Big Branch disaster, where 29 miners died because of safety failures.

“Blankenship’s one-year sentence and $250,000 fine were the maximum allowed under current law. We need stronger safety laws, with tougher penalties, to protect workers and families. Thousands of U.S. workers die every year from traumatic injuries at work, and tens of thousands more die from the long-term effect of exposure to workplace hazards.

“All too often, these deaths happen when executives like Don Blankenship make decisions that put profits and production ahead of worker safety. The way to change this irresponsible behavior is to ensure swift, certain and severe punishment for those who abuse their authority and put workers’ lives at risk.”