Public administrative system in society has been criticized for inefficiency and weaknesses in dealing with hazards affecting the general public. Safety professionals in the public sector should become more vigilant in establishing the safety issues affecting the people. The professionals are not relevant with the required safety measures required to reduce or solve hazards affecting the people. They are not result-oriented and not purpose driven. This creates a great danger to the general public due to the many hazards facing them. The public administration systems have the mandate to safeguard the public against hazards and to ensure all people are protected. The Blast in Centralia was caused by a weak and ineffective public administration system. The coal mine explosion occurred on March 25, 1947 in Centralia, II. The coal mine provided coal during the World War II and was had great importance to the US government. The explosion was caused by build up of coal dust which was ignited leading to death of 111 men working at the mine. According to Fanning, (2007, p. 1) “many public sector safety professionals from state and federal agencies knew of the hazards as a result of inspections, union complaints and letters to state officials.” No action had been taken to remedy the problem despite many reports and inspections into the matter. Mine union officers had complained severally about the hazards facing them (Fanning, 2007).
History of the hazard
The mine was located in Illinois town and several circumstances led to the blast and killing of the 111 men working at the mine. Governor John Hamilton had divided the state of Illinois into five inspection districts in 1883. The officers were supposed to supervise practices and safety regulations in the districts assigned. A Board of Examiners was established to establish the qualifications of the inspectors. The board had a duty to supervise the state mine inspection service. In 1917 the Illinois Department of Mines and minerals was founded to take over the functions of the State Mining Board. To ensure they were protected against hazards at work, the coal miners went on strike in 1917. President H. Truman seized the coal miners since there was high demand for coal during the World War II and large amounts of the product were required for export. Department of Interior took over the operation of the mine after it signed a deal with United Mine Workers of America (UMWA). The parties involved in the deal signed an agreement to enforce the federal safety rules in the mines. In 1946 the Coal Mines Association (CMA) was established to manage the mines (Fanning, 2007).
Fanning (2007, p. 2) provides that “the Centralia Coal Co. owned Centralia Mine Number 5. It opened in 1907 and covered nearly 6 square miles underground. The mine employed 250 men and produced 2,000 tons of coal each day.” explosion at the mine was experienced on March 25, 1947 leading to death of 111 miners. The explosion happened when coal dust was ignited by fired explosives. Coal dust had been deposited everywhere and had posed a major risk of explosion but few measures had been taken to reduce the risk. Centralia disaster has been listed as one of the worst disasters to occur in the U.S. history (Fanning, 2007).
Events leading up to the explosion
Robert Medill was appointed as the director of the Illinois Department of Mines and Minerals in 1941. In addition, Driscoll Scanlan was appointed as an inspector of one of the 16 mines owned by the state. He inspected Centralia Mine No. 5 and had carried out several inspections before the occurrence of the explosion. Illinois department of Mines and Minerals was provided with several reports by Scanlan before the occurrence of the explosion. The buildup of coal dust exposed danger to the people working at the mine and Scanlan insisted that measures should be taken to protect the miners. The reports were processed and recommendations were provided to the management of the company. More reports were issued by Frank Prez. He was a mine inspector and provided recommendations same as those of Scanlan. The management of the company responded by suggesting that they would look into the matter when production of coal slowed down in the future. Despite the warnings by the professionals, no measures were taken by the management of the company to reduce the hazards. Charges were placed against the mine mangers for exposing the miners to the hazards. The managers were not held accountable for the charges and were released. Scanlan proposed that the managers of the company should install sprinklers as a safety measure of dealing with the risk (Fanning, 2007).
UMWA did independent investigations into the matter and the members were dissatisfied by the prevailing conditions at the mine. Scanlan was warned by Medill to cut down the number of reports released. The management failed to comply with the recommendations provided by various individuals and organizations using the strike by miners as a scapegoat. CMA continued to write to the managers of the mine to solve the problem since there was a great danger that could be experienced at any time. Despite all the efforts to curb the problem, no measures were taken by the mine managers and the mine exploded in 1947 killing 111 miners. After investigations were conducted on the main cause of the explosion it was found that coal dust was the cause. The mine managers were accountable for the explosion since they fired explosives in the mine. They never controlled the danger involved. The charges leveled against the managers were not executed and the managers were not held accountable for the death of the miners (Fanning, 2007).
The need for and importance of a strong and effective public administrative system in society
As observed in the above case study a strong and effective public administration system in the society is very important. The professionals appointed in the public offices should be qualified to perform the duties assigned. The recruitment process should fare and transparent to ensure the appropriate personnel are employed. Professionals should be self-motivated to perform the jobs provided and they should be willing to do them. Many hazards affect people due to the laxity of the professionals. Coordination between the various public administration departments is required to ensure the leaders coordinate with each other. The explosion at the Centralia No.5 occurred due to poor response by the management of the mine. The mine managers were concerned more about the profitability of the company and had little concern about the welfare of the mine workers. There should be efficient systems in public administration to ensure all concerned parties adhere to the rules and regulations of the country. Strict rules should be enacted to hold all the concerned parties accountable for any accidents or hazards which occur after carelessness. Public accountability should be the main goal when providing officers with public roles. The government should become more responsible to its citizens by creating rules which protect the public. The welfare of the people should become the first priority when dealing with public safety. Professional reports are very essential and should be implemented accordingly. Professionals have the qualifications and experience which is very essential when promoting public safety and their recommendations should be implemented.
Public administration professionals should be motivated to work hard towards enhancing public safety. They should have self-motivation to ensure they are willing to contribute towards safeguarding the public against hazards. Public sector safety professionals should become result oriented rather than activity oriented. The professionals employed to overlook the safety standards at the mines were reckless and paid little attention towards reducing the hazards and risks facing the coal miners. The poor management of risks by the public administration has led to death of many miners. Appropriate measures should be taken to ensure all professionals are properly qualified and have the necessary skills required safeguarding the public against hazards. The professionals should be motivated and have the self-drive to promote the welfare of citizens. Public administrators should be responsible for the welfare of the people and should take a collective responsibility about the safety of the people. The legal systems should hold accountable, all irresponsible managers and charges against them should be well executed.
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