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Natural gas industry learning from coal mine accidents

It is well known to West Virginia readers that coal mine accidents are often caused by a lack of training or safety standards within the mine. As natural gas drilling increases in the state, industry leaders are looking at the standards used to prevent coal mine accidents and possibly applying them to natural gas drilling. Natural gas standards are under a closer review after lawmakers have recently expressed concerns. 

Currently, a West Virginia coal miner must undergo 20 to 40 hours of training before beginning work. After that, the miner must work alongside a more experienced miner for a probationary period. Natural gas industry leaders claim that their workers are also required to undergo a similar amount of training. It is said that these requirements and other safety standards were developed in cooperation with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. 

Interestingly, safety certification for natural gas drillers comes from the International Association of Drilling Contractors and is not required in order to get a job in the industry. It is the lack of a definitive safety training requirement that has West Virginia lawmakers concerned. There is a concern for the safety those working on the Marcellus Shale, particularly the availability of properly trained rescue/emergency teams in case of an accident while drilling. 

It may be hard to compare the two industries, but some of the safety standards and training measures used to prevent coal mine accidents can also be applicable in the natural gas industry. Those who are employed in this field deserve safe work environments and proper training in order to perform their job safely. Should unsafe conditions and/or lack or training lead to the injury or death of a natural gas employee, an attorney experienced in handling claims of this nature may be helpful in gaining an understanding of compensation options and legal choices. 

Source: wvmetronews.com, “Lawmaker wants more answers on Marcellus shale worker safety issues“, Chris Lawrence, Nov. 19, 2014

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