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Coal mine accidents: what do mine fatality statistics indicate?

Miners in West Virginia know the risk that they face every day for coal mine accidents. With proper training and safety protocols, the risk for coal mine accidents can decrease, but statistics indicate that numbers may not be decreasing at an appropriate rate. In 2014, there were two fewer deaths in the industry than occurred in the previous year. While this is certainly an improvement, coal mine accidents should be decreasing at a faster rate. 

The Mine Safety and Health Administration has made great improvements for those employed in this industry, but West Virginia miners are still at risk for injury or death on the job. Many mine accidents are caused by falling equipment, auto accidents and equipment malfunction. It is impossible to prevent every single accident, but the high number of mining deaths may point to the need for improved safety training for employees and awareness on job sites. 

Miners have the right to a safe work environment. While there are some inherent risks that are associated with the job, safety precautions may prevent some unnecessary deaths. Evolving safety training, continued evaluation of hazards and outfitting workers with proper gear are just a few of the measures that should be taken. Although statistics indicate that the number of deaths is not decreasing at an acceptable rate, it should be noted that, when a tragic accident does occur at a mine, there are certain options available to the family. 

After an on-the-job death, the remaining family members could be eligible for death benefits through workers’ compensation. Regardless of the circumstances of the accident, a family could be eligible for recompense for end-of-life expenses, funeral costs and medical bills. When coal mine accidents have a tragic impact, it is worthwhile to seek a thorough evaluation of the incident in order to understand the appropriate course of action.

Source: msha.gov, “From the Desk: 4th Quarter/2014 Year-End Mining Death Results”, Jan. 7, 2015

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