Letter: Safer in a coal mine than on a motorway

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The Independent Online
Sir: Safety is of paramount importance to British Coal. Britain's pits are safer today than at any time in the long history of mining in this country. You are safer working in a coal mine than you are driving down a motorway.

It was unacceptable, therefore, to read the unjustified claims published in the Independent (report, 30 December) and, in particular, reference to an accident at Point of Ayr colliery in North Wales, wrongly attributed to the introduction of American mining techniques. The accident at Point of Ayr colliery had nothing whatsoever to do with the system of mining. It had everything to do with the supervising and application of the rules laid down by the manager for working the system. That those rules were breached is without doubt, as the accident inquiry (involving the mining trade union responsible for upholding the rules) has clearly shown.

So don't let's damn the system of mining - which has itself played an important part in helping to reduce accidents in mines - when the fault lies elsewhere.

Rules and regulations, codes of practice and the managers' rules for working mining systems safely and efficiently have to be adhered to in order to sustain and improve on British Coal's record of operating the safest deep-mine business in the world.

Yours faithfully,


Head of Mining

British Coal Corporation



30 December