Thomas to Direct Federal Mining Administration Accountability Office

A former district manager who has participated on mine rescue teams and fatal accident investigations will direct a new federal Mine Safety and Health Administration office charged with assessing compliance with agency enforcement actions.

Charles Thomas is a 16-year agency employee and is chief of health in MSHA’s Office of Coal Mine Safety and Health.

The Fairmont, W. Va., native will be responsible for reviewing mining data, conducting field audits, and recommending and monitoring corrective actions.

“As the director of the Office of Accountability, Charlie will focus on ensuring that MSHA enforcement across the nation is diligent, vigorous and conducted with the strictest regard for miners’ safety,” Richard E. Stickler, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health said in a prepared statement.

MSHA created the Office of Accountability following its reviews of last year’s Sago, Aracoma and Darby mining accidents in West Virginia and Kentucky that killed 19 miners. Sago and Aracoma occurred weeks apart in January 2006, killing 14 miners. An explosion at the Darby mine in Kentucky four months later killed five.