Causes of Coal Mining Injuries and Deaths
Coal is one of the driving forces of the world’s energy economy. According to the Economist, the world’s electricity production doubled over the past decade, and two-thirds of that increase came from coal. At current rates, coal will be competing with oil within the next five years as a primary energy source.
Along with the rising use of coal across the world has come improvements in the safety of coal miners. While coal miners used to die at a rate of almost a thousand a year in the first part of the 20th century, now the numbers are much lower. Now, around 60 to 70 fatal coal mining accidents happen each year. This is certainly an improvement, but coal mining remains one of the most dangerous industries to work in in the United States.
What causes coal mining injuries?
The process of going into the ground to extract coal is dangerous for a variety of reasons, the most significant of which are explosions from gases present in the ground. Other coal mining injuries occur above ground, where large pieces of equipment present certain hazards.
Types of coal mining accidents
Methane is a gas frequently found in layers of coal underground, and presents one of the great hazards of the industry. It is highly explosive, and failure to follow safety procedures, or a malfunction in equipment, can set it off.
Some of the worst mining disasters ever recorded were caused by methane, and the consecutive coal dust explosions that followed. Explosions either kill miners outright, through blasts, falling rocks, or by trapping them underground.
The top two mining disasters in history happened this way. In 1942, the China Benxihu Collery accident killed 1,549 miners. The second largest occurred in France in 1906. Known as the Courriers accident, it left 1,099 miners dead.
Blast related accidents
The explosives used in mining can also cause some collateral damage. Blasts can go off prematurely, send off flying rocks that cause injury, or they can misfire. A misfire can leave explosives in the ground to go off unexpectedly while miners are working.
Earthquakes – Natural or man-made
When down in the earth, miners are prey to shifting land masses, and can easily become trapped or killed by such events. Also, mines in seismically active areas of the world can become unstable through blasting, inducing what amounts to a man-made earthquake.
Working with heavy equipment above ground has its own dangers. Miners can fall, or malfunctioning or negligently operated machinery can cause them injury. Heavy machinery offers little room for error against fragile human bodies, and this equipment can cause severe injury or death quite easily.
Heavy machinery is in fact the greatest risk for miner who work above ground, and is responsible for the greatest number of injuries and deaths.
An important job with serious risks
The work of a miner is not for the faint of heart, but it is a necessary occupation. Coal drives much of the world, and the modern standard of living would not be possible without it. There is hope that the rising improvement of mine safety will continue, and these jobs will become as safe as they should be. If you have been injured in a coal mining accident, it is important that you know that laws are in place to protect you and your rights. If you were injured through another’s negligence, lease contact us today to find out how we can help you gain compensation for your injuries.
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