Workers in the mining industry in West Virginia risk their lives with every shift they work. Blasting-related coal mine accidents are preventable but continue to happen. The highly explosive methane gas trapped in between the coal layers could cause catastrophic coal dust explosions. Improper use of explosives, or mechanical errors like malfunctioning or improper use of mining tools, has claimed many mineworkers’ deaths.
Workers must stand a safe distance away from the blast to avoid being struck by fly-rocks, which have caused many fatalities in the past. Improper planning of the explosion could also cause fly-rocks thrown farther than anticipated. Premature explosions can cause other dangerous circumstances. These are typically due to using degenerated explosives, faulty fuses, accidental percussion or plain carelessness.
One of the most dangerous circumstances in coal mines involves misfires. It happens when only a part of the blasting charge explodes. The remaining explosive or pyrotechnical material is left hidden in the muck pile or ground when that happens. Any subsequent digging, crushing or milling processes could trigger the remaining explosives, with potential severe injuries or deaths of blasters and operators as a result.
Mine-induced seismicity could compromise slope stability, posing a significant threat for mine workers. When seismicity is not studied before blasting, the risk is even higher. Blasting could lead to collapsing mine working in earthquake-like incidents that could trap miners underground. An additional danger could result if the collapsed area is flooded.
Victims of coal mine accidents in West Virginia might be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits to relieve the burden of medical expenses and lost wages. If lives are lost in work-related accidents, the surviving family members may seek death benefits to help cover end-of-life expenses and lost income. The sooner such injuries or deaths are reported, the sooner the wheels can start rolling with the filing of workers’ compensation benefits claims.