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Decreasing the risk of coal mine accidents in West Virginia

A team of researchers at West Virginia University has been working to reduce the number of coal mine accidents in surface mines. Traditionally, coal mine accidents are associated underground mines, but it is hoped that advancements in safety could improve conditions in surface mines as well. A new system has been developed to help miners prevent equipment-related accidents. 

Over the last 10 years, the majority of fatalities in surface mines have been related to equipment. The newly developed safety system should help miners avoid distraction while using heavy equipment, as well as help identify equipment that is in danger of a collision. By using radio waves, the system will alert miners who are in danger of an accident. 

Miners often work late hours, and drowsiness can lead to an increased risk of accidents. The new safety system employs sensors and cameras in order to try to detect the signs of drowsiness and alert the worker to danger. Although it has not yet been released to the mining industry at large, the new system is being used on a trial basis at certain surface mine locations. At some point, West Virginia mine owners may have the option to further protect employees by implementing this new technology. 

Employers should always strive to protect the best interests of their workers, especially those who work in high-risk situations, such as coal miners. When a person's safety has been compromised because of unsafe conditions at work, certain legal options may be available to accident victims, including the right to pursue claims for financial relief. With this new safety system,  employers may have more opportunities to help prevent coal mine accidents and protect workers. 

Source: wtrf.com, "WVU researches ways to reduce mining hazards", Sarah Tincher, May 8, 2015

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