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COSTAIN ENTERS PLEA TO FEDERAL CHARGES; COMPANY SAYS MAJOR PROGRESS MADE IN WORKER SAFETY

 LOUISVILLE, Ky., Feb. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- Seeking a prompt resolution to a federal investigation following a 1989 mine accident, Costain Coal Inc. has pleaded guilty and/or no contest to violations of federal statutes arising from the operation of the William Station Mine, now known as the Wheatcroft Mine.
 Under a negotiated plea agreement made public with the filing of the indictment and plea, the company has agreed to pay a $3.75 million fine, subject to the approval of the court.
 The company has determined that a protracted challenge and trial of the government charges would prolong the pain for all, including Costain employees, families of miners who died and the company.
 In a statement delivered after the court proceedings on Friday, Thomas H. Parker, president and chief executive officer of Costain Coal Inc., said: "We deeply regret the tragedy that occurred. Today's decision was not an easy one to make. While the exact cause and reasons for the accident remain unresolved, we believe it is in the best interest of everyone involved -- our employees, the families of miners who died, and our company -- to resolve the charges and look to the future."
 Parker said Costain has taken "significant steps since the accident to improve safety at the mine and improve the safety of our workers. Safety performance in West Kentucky has improved significantly and the company and employees are committed to further continuous improvement."
 The complete statement and an overview of safety improvements at the mine follows.
 Statement of Thomas H. Parker, President and Chief Executive
 Officer, Costain Coal Inc., Regarding Plea to Federal Charges
 We deeply regret the tragedy that occurred on Sept. 13, 1989.
 Today's decision by Costain was not an easy one to make.
 While only one of the charges in the indictment relates specifically to the day of Sept. 13, nevertheless we view all of the charges as very serious. Costain has cooperated fully with the investigation.
 While the exact cause and reasons for the accident remain unresolved, we believe it is in the best interest of everyone involved -- our employees, the families of the miners who died and our company -- to resolve the charges and look to the future.
 We have taken significant steps since the accident to improve safety at the mine and ensure the safety of our workers. Safety performance in West Kentucky has improved significantly and the company and employees are committed to further continuous improvement.
 Major Safety Improvements Made at William Station Mine Since 1989
 Since the tragic accident occurred in 1989 at the William Station Mine, now known as the Wheatcroft Mine, major improvements in safety systems at the mine have been made. The mine's safety program has been completely reorganized, with an emphasis on increased worker involvement, training, communication, additional safety personnel and more aggressive hazard prevention.
 While loss (injury) figures have been reduced, further improvements are continuing to be made.
 The reorganization of the mine's safety program was based on research conducted by outside firms along with the mine's management and workers.
 1. Increasing personnel in the mine safety department, from 9 to 16. The increased safety personnel include two in-house inspectors who regularly monitor mine conditions for any citable safety violations. One has had extensive experience as a mine inspector with the Mine Safety and Health Administration. The increased personnel also include three loss prevention analysts who analyze injury data to develop mechanisms to reduce hazards based on injury data.
 2. Enhanced training and involvement of hourly workers in loss prevention (safety):
 -- Frequency of training classes has been increased.
 -- In the past, only safety personnel investigated injuries and hazards. Today, teams comprised of both hourly and salaried personnel investigate all injuries, citable conditions and potential hazards. These investigations lead to recommendations and improvements that are implemented by employees.
 -- Workers have been trained in loss prevention observation to eliminate unsafe conditions before safety hazards or citable conditions occur.
 3. Better systems of communication between management and workers. Face-to-face management meetings held with hourly workers at the beginning of each work cycle are fostering better communication concerning mine conditions and safety issues. Management is required to file written feedback reports based on the meetings concerning instructions given and feedback from workers so that there is ongoing communication concerning the mine and safety issues. Communication also includes communicating to employees root causes of all injuries and citations and actions taken to prevent recurrence.
 Other changes made include:
 -- Providing additional safety training/counseling for those individuals who have had repeated injuries;
 -- Hiring full-time dust/noise technician;
 -- Increased staffing of permissibility crews;
 -- Improved utilization of safety/protective equipment beyond that required by law, including:
 - Mandatory safety glasses
 - Upgraded M-20 self-contained self-rescuers
 - Arm guards for roof bolter operators
 - Back support belts
 - Anemometers for equipment operators as well as supervisors
 - Expanded mine monitoring equipment
 - Upgraded fire fighting equipment
 - One-hour SCSR's for outby personnel
 -- Switching from conventional mining units to continuous miner units.
 According to Thomas Parker, president and chief executive officer of Costain, "Improving safety performance demands the committed efforts of all employees, from the laborer cleaning the beltline to the president of the company.
 "There is no easy method for improving worker safety programs. To be successful requires worker training and involvement at every level of the organization. The system requires constant observation and continuous improvement among all employees.
 "We have made progress in Western Kentucky and throughout the company, and improvements will continue to be made," Parker said.
 As an indication of progress that has been made, Parker said that the number of lost time injuries per 100 workers on an annual basis at the mine had decreased 30 percent from 1990 to 1992. The decline in accidents has been particularly noticeable in the last three months as the loss prevention system has become more a part of the everyday routine.
 -0- 2/19/93
 /CONTACT: Thomas Parker or Kathleen Connelly of Costain Coal, 502-589-5235; or on Saturday, Jonathan Dedmon of The Dilenschneider Group, 312-553-0700, for Costain Coal/


CO: Costain Coal Inc. ST: Kentucky IN: MNG SU:

GK -- NY062 -- 8526 02/19/93 16:35 EST
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