By Mandi Bierly
Updated April 08, 2011 at 09:27 PM EDT

The cameramen for Spike TV’s new reality show Coal, from Deadliest Catch‘s Thom Beers, are doing an undeniably good job documenting the lives of the miners who work Cobalt Coal in Big Sandy, W. Va. So good, in fact, that after viewing the first episode of the series, the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration and state Officer of Miners’ Health, Safety and Training cited Cobalt Coal for various violations that endangered miners. The Associated Press details the citations, which range from improper use of tools to individual miners failing to wear the correct reflective clothing or proper eye protection. Cobalt Coal co-owner Mike Crowder hasn’t been soured on reality TV by the experience: He told the AP at the very least, the Spike footage, far better in quality than most training videos, can be used as a teaching tool, and that the show succeeds in its goal, which is to tell the coal miners’ story. (He also said he’s seen both a surge in business and in employee applications.)

“Spike is proud of Coal,” a network spokesperson tells EW. “The intent of this series isn’t to be an exposé on the mining industry, but rather give viewers a never before seen look at the profession of coal mining, the extreme conditions these men (and in some cases women) face on a daily basis in order to get their jobs done, and take a personal look at the men who work at this particular mine. If the series can be looked at as a tool in mine safety and training, it would be an added benefit.”

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Deadliest Catch

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