Massey Coal Case A person is morally responsible for an injury or a wrong if: 1. the person caused or helped caused it, or failed to prevent it when he or she could have and should have 2. the person did so knowing what he or she was doing 3. the person did so of his or her own free will Question 1 Massey Energy Company should be held morally responsible for the deaths of the 29 miners. The U. S. Mine Safety and Health Administration issued “too much” citations for the violations in the mines Massey Energy Company owned.
The company always challenged several of the citations and corrected enough of the significant and substantial violations to allow its total violations to fall below the level needed to force its closure. This means in terms of safety, the company only make significant safety change in order for their mines not to be totally closed but not make a major safety changes in order to follow all the guidelines of MSHA and eliminate all possible endangerment in the mines. Massey should be held morally responsible because of the lack of effort the company put in to improve the safety quality in their mines.
Question 2 Don Blankenship should be held morally responsible for the deaths of the 29 miners. Don wrote a memo stating that managers should concentrate on producing coal and not waste time responding to requests to fix things. It was not clear what had ignited the explosion of April 5 but it was almost certain that is was caused by accumulations of methane and coal dust. If Don had enforced the managers to focused more on the safety of the mines and the miners so that they are up to MSHA safety standards rather than only to concentrate on producing coal, the April 5 incident could well be prevented.
Don Blankenship lack of care for the miners and prioritizing profit over safety are enough reasons for him to be held morally responsible for the deaths of the 29 miners. Question 3 MSHA should somehow be held morally responsible for the deaths of the 29 miners. First of all, the company does not operate up to the standard when it comes to protecting the lives of the miners. The agency was understaffed and its inspectors were overworked. Also, the week before the mine explosion, half of the agency’s inspectors failed to attend required training courses and the agency neither kept track of their attendance nor did it sanction them.
Not only that, but the company can’t shut down a mine unless the total violations of these coal mine companies are above the level needed to force its closure. Most of the coal mine companies challenged MSHA’s citations and corrected enough of the significant violations so they fall below the shut-down level. This is irresponsible on MSHA’s side. Thy should enforce a tighter and stricter rules when it comes to violations. MSHA should not just imposed fines on the company but they should be more stern when it comes to safety violations by the company.
Also, waiting until there is too much violations by the company to close the mines will endanger the lives of the miners. When people lives are on stake, MSHA surely are not up to the standard of that task. Question 4 The miners had some idea of the risks of working in the Upper Big Branch mine however that is not enough for them to be held any responsibility for their own deaths. Don Blankenship had released a memo to the managers specifically stating to ignore wasting time responding to requests to fix things. Managers then would be afraid to object to Don Blankenship requests since they could get fired.
During the congressional hearing, survivors and relatives of those who had died testified. Most of the testimony states that they are afraid to go to management and express their fears of the lack of safety in the mine. They are afraid management would look for ways to fire them. So afraid of being fired, miners should not be held responsible for their own deaths because of the lack of freedom they have to express their feelings. Question 5 There is a huge difference between mines without unions like the Massey mines and other mines that had unions.
The huge difference is the safety regulations. A union would fought for better enforcement of safety regulations to protect the miners. According to the testimony of Gary Quarles, the huge difference is when MSHA inspector comes to the mines. When an MSHA inspector comes onto a Massey mine property, the code words go out “we’ve got a man on the property. ” When the word goes pit all effort is made to correct any deficiencies or direct the inspector’s attention away from any deficiencies. Also when an MSHA inspector comes to a Massey mine, he/she is only accompanied by Massey people.
No coal miner at the mine can point out areas of concern to the MSHA inspector. While in union mines, workers at the mine would accompany the MSHA inspectors during the inspections. Workers also have the right to refuse to work in unsafe conditions without fear of their job. Clearly, in mines without unions like Massey, the people are trying to deceive MSHA inspectors to that they would not get citations for different violations. Seeing the huge difference in enforcing safety regulations, all mines should be forced to have a union. Question 6
The average salary for all jobs in the United States is $43,000 while miners in the Upper Big Branch mine were paid $60,000. Even though a work of a miner required no more than a high school education, the risk of their job is very high, probably the highest. Wages will fail to provide a level of compensation proportional to the risks of a job when markets do not register risks because the risks are not yet known. For example, the health risks involved in mining or using a certain mineral such as manganese may not be known until many years afterward. In this case, wages will not fully compensate for risks.
Workers also might accept risks unknowingly because they do not have adequate accept to information concerning those risks. Workers don’t have the money or the tool to collect information needed to assess the risks of the jobs they accept. Workers might accept known risks out of desperation because they lack the mobility to enter other less risky industries or because they lack information of the alternatives available to them. Massey is only paying $17,000 more than the average of all jobs in the United States. Knowing all the risks as a miner such as exposure to methane nd all other lethal gases and also the high rate of accidents in Upper Big Branch mine due to poor safety regulations, a wage of $60,000 surely does not cover the all the risks that the miners are exposed to. Only $17,000 more on the wage of the miners than the average wage of all the jobs in the U. S. is not an ethical approach by the company. There is a far more safer job even though they are lower in wages. But the $60,000 in wages is not worth it for the miners considering all the job risks Massey doesn’t account for. So, Massey was not handling job risk in an ethically appropriate manner. Question 7
Massey Energy Company did not fulfill a lot of ethical obligations. The company violated the ethics of care. An ethic of care says they we should care for those dependent on and related to us. The miners are dependent of the managers and CEO of the company to enforce tighter and stricter safety regulations, however Massey failed to do so. The company violated the ethics of pollution control. Massey was faced with the problem of disposing millions of gallons of coal slurry the mines were producing. They did not control their pollution of coal slurry into the environment, thus violating the ethics of pollution control.
Massey also violated different rights. Positive rights state that duties of other agents (Massey) to provide the holder of the right (the miners) with whatever he or she needs to freely pursue his or her interests. The miners interest is to have a high quality safety regulations in the mines and Massey failed to provide this interest. Massey also failed the fairness of wages and the fairness of employee working conditions. The wage they are paying to the miners are not enough to cover all the job risks the miners are exposed to in the mine. Massey also failed to provide proper working condition in the Upper Big Branch.