Ex-foreman at Sago Mine falsified safety inspection reports

Ex-foreman at Sago Mine falsified safety inspection reports

Robert Dennison, an ex-foreman for Sago Mine where 12 miners were killed last January, was indicted for falsifying safety inspection reports.

Dennison allegedly lied on his application saying he was a certified foreman when he applied for a job at Sago Mine in 2004. Anker West Virginia Mining, which owned Sago, never asked for a copy of Dennison’s certificate before hiring him.

For more than four months, Dennison performed 113 safety inspections of the Sago Mine as required by federal law, and checked for safety and health problems before each shift. However, Dennison’s inspections were illegal because he was uncertified.

According to the indictment, Dennison was fired in August 2004 after Anker learned he was not certified. There are no reports that Dennison cleared mines as safe when there were problems.

There are concerns about why mine operators didn’t ask to see proof of Dennison’s certification as a foreman. “Before you hire somebody as a foreman, you should check their credentials,” said Tony Oppegard, a former mine-safety prosecutor in Kentucky.

Thomas Johnston, U.S. attorney in northern West Virginia said in a statement, “This type of allegedly fraudulent activity has no place in the mining environment, especially when the safety of miners is place at risk.”


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