Coal operators across the country are changing the way they work and mines are becoming safer. But the head of the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration says there are still many who "don't get it."
MSHA chief Joe Main said Thursday in Charleston, W.Va., that those who don't can expect to face tough penalties.
He says if a federal inspector can identify dangerous conditions, so can operators. He says they need to take ownership and fix problems before MSHA finds them _ and before a miner is injured or killed.
But Main says preliminary data for 2011 show improvements.
Mining citations and orders totaled more than 157,000 in 2011, down from more than 171,000 the year before.