Upper Big Branch Mining Disaster Essay Paper

Upper Big Branch Mining Disaster

Industrial Calamities Can Be Avoided if Companies Respected the Law

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Abiding by federal or state industrial laws is necessary since genuine minded legislators have processed the laws and not the profit-minded shark operating as a company executive. Laws provide a framework at which companies should follow. In most cases, laws specify the necessity of appreciating human life. Furthermore, laws provide an equal balancing of social expectations and company objectives. However, some companies have broken the laws. From their illegal actions, different calamities have been experienced in an industrial situation. The commencing research will highlight an example of this company, Massey Energy and its 2010 incidence that led to the perishing of 29 industrial workers. The research will prove that the self-regulation is not ethical as compared to industrial laws set by the government.

What Massey Energy could have done to avoid this tragedy?

Following April 5, 2010 industrial, it became apparent that industrial disaster were incubating. According to the investigation tackled soon after incidence, it became apparent Massey Energy had contravened references stipulated by Mine Act of 1977. The company was operating its activities in a reckless manner. As a result, 29 of 31 coal miners perished in the tragedy. Investigators report specified that the company ventilation system did not meet standard (Lawrence, 2014). This resulted to the piling up of explosive gases. Further to this, Massey Energy threatened workers who raised allegations about the dangerous working conditions. Investigators released over 515 violations of federal and state laws.

To respond to this, Massey should have realized the necessity of improvising safety industrial standards. Pilling of gasses threatened the livelihoods of workers even before the incidence occurred. Ignoring appeals of state or federal stipulation back to back with requests from the workforce can be considered as ethical. Brenner (1994, pp. 307) argues that, explosive gasses are dangerous not only to the workers but even to the community residing around the mine. For this reason, Massey Energy should hire an expert to evaluate the possible causes of poor ventilation. The expert was expected to come up with a detailed report on what to do in order to avoid industrial tragedies (Lawrence, 2014). In summary, it essential for Massey Energy to acknowledge ethics stipulated by corporate social responsibility.

Flouting Violations

Profit objectives are the principle reasons why Massey avoided taking safety precautions. Restructuring the company inside setting to allow for safety precautions proved an extra cost that Massey Energy desired to avoid. The act of flouting the violations was something historic as far as Massey Energy is concerned. According to several reports, Massey has been flouting violations by improvising internal rules, which were not consistent and sought to minimize collectiveness of CSR principles. In particular, the HR department ensured that complaints on working conditions were extinguished. Massey periodically violated federal or state industrial expectations by firing concerned employees.

The most serious violation is preceding the accidents were removal of the stoppings. Blankenship rule was the worst in the company. A fifteen-month industrial struggle ensued with different sides fronting possible strikes. The biggest attempt was eroding the UMWA influence and solidifying the firm position in the industrial areas of Appalachian region. Blankenship further violated expectations by buying huge reserves of met coal at unfair prices. Although this did not have direct consequences with the company, it should be noted that this was an earlier indication of CSR violations. The company capitalized on the opportunity presented by the weakened steel economy in building a domestic steel empire. For this reason, authorities were unable close check Massey Energy activities.

Blankenship driven organizational culture

Largely, Massey organizational culture was primarily responsible for the accident. The Mine Safety and Health Administration found that the organization culture caused safety violations. Blankenship goals were centered on favoring increased volume of productions and not safe working conditions. Being the company head C.E.O, it was sad that Blankenship failed to recognize the essentiality of CSR. Blankenship further failed in character and personality. To him, profits were everything that the company should be searching for and not quality of production processes. In 2005, Blankenship was quoted for having said ‘If any of you…have been asked by supervisors or engineers…anything other than coal…you need to ignore them….and run coal…it is coal that pay bills.’ This was an indication that other factors did not count and profit objectives mattered than safety.

Massey organizational culture was also corrupt and cunning. Blankenship offered contribution to a political ideology debuted “And for the sake of the Kids.” While the campaign could be attributed for its integral role in fostering positive commitment, it should be noted that its approach was not legitimate, and it sought to keep the people of Virginia at an oblivious situation by violating safety precautions. Blankenship was instrumental in materializing a cunning / negligent culture one that fostered corruption and negligence (Lawrence, 2014).

Self-regulated behavior vs. legislation

The society should not rely on self-regulated behavior of companies engaging in unethical conduct because it would deter the authority of the chief whip. The society should rely on federal and state laws since this provides check and balances for the company’s unethical corporate irresponsibility. Based on Massey Energy Blankenship driven ideology, it is notable that the company goals focused on profits. While this approach seems decisive on the short-run, it is not advisable on the long run since companies would bend ethical principle for profit ideologies. Ruthlessness is also serious shortcoming if companies are allowed to self-regulate. In this case, companies would conduct business in an unfair environment just because profits are there. Employees who feel the companies are not doing right are tethered from expressing their opinion (Blindheim & Langhelle, 2010). A combined approach of this then make it clear that companies should not be allowed to self-regulate

Alternatively, federal or state laws provide a clear conscience of what and how it should be done. Working conditions have attracted a great debate in the federal industrial relations concern. The Mine Act provides a clear approach on what should be done. Long (2009, pp. 29) cites a close example being the Occupation Safety and Health Administration OSHA have provided on possible measures that should be upheld at industrial conditions. However, Blankenship never desired to achieve the commitment. Consequently, corrosive fatalities were experienced during the 2009 incidence. In summary, the society should encourage the state and federal government to make laws, which will bind all citizens equally.

Impact of the tragedy

The 2009 disaster had a significant impact to the company, executive, and the community negatively on the short-run and positively on the long run. Massey Energy was bought by Alpha at a tune of seven billion dollars. Although the sale was legitimate, it should be noted that it is Sad for a company that had such a deep history in mining. Blankenship personality was subsequently tarnished. This did not sound for a man who was flamboyant and had decisive objectives in politics being relegated to the level of failure. Families of the deceased workers felt shortchanged by the company and the authorities.

The community felt the subsequent loss of the 29 deceased, and loss of livelihoods (jobs). The mine supported several families surrounding, and this meant that these families had come to an abrupt tragedy. However, this led to the tightening of federal measures regarding mining. Companies were required to abide with laws like the OSHA that specified positive requirements that were to be met in a given industrial setting. Activist sought to ensure that ventilations systems including other workplace conditions were secure (Jenkin, 2004, pp. 26). Additionally, worker’s voices were kept at close bay; the organization specified the models of improving the communication channels.


Blindheim, B., & Langhelle, O. (2010). A reinterpretation of the principles of CSR: a pragmatic approach. Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, 2, n/a-n/a.

Brenner, F.J., Brenner, E.K., Brenner, P.E., & Steiner, R.P. (1994). Evaluation of procedures to estimate biomass on surface coalmine lands reclaimed under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977. Environmental Management, 18(2), 307-315.

Jenkins, H. (2004). Corporate Social Responsibility And The Mining Industry: Conflicts And Constructs. Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, 11(1), 23-34.

Long, L.A. (2009). History of process safety at OSHA. Process Safety Progress, 28(2), 128-130.

Lawrence, A.T (2014). The Upper Big Branch Mining Disaster. New York: McGraw Hill.

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