Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship should receive more than the one year in prison to which he was sentenced today, according to Jessica Martinez, acting executive director, National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH).

Blankenship, who was investigated after 29 workers died during an explosion at Massey’s Upper Big Branch mine on April 5, 2010, received the maximum sentencing permitted for conspiracy to willfully violate mine health and safety standards.

“One year is hardly enough to make up for the years and decades of life lost at the Upper Big Branch disaster, where 29 miners died because of safety failures,” Martinez said.

She called for “stronger safety laws with tougher penalties” to help prevent employees from being exposed to potentially fatal workplace hazards.  

“All too often, these deaths happen when executives like Don Blankenship make decisions that put profits and production ahead of worker safety,” Martinez said. “The way to change this irresponsible behavior is to ensure swift, certain and severe punishment for those who abuse their authority and put workers' lives at risk.”