Thirty percent of electricity generated in the US is created by mining and burning coal. It’s still one of the safest and least expensive power generating fuels available.
Coal mining is one of the top industries in West Virginia, but it’s still one of the most dangerous. Even with improvements in safety equipment and procedures, accidents still happen that leave employees with serious, debilitating injuries. Some miners never make it out, leaving behind a grieving family. Here, we’ll talk about the current state of the industry and what’s being done to make it safer.
The State Of West Virginia
In the first three quarters of 2017, there were 3,553 incidents in coal mines in West Virginia. This includes 7 fatalities attributed to mining accidents.
The West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health, Safety & Training is responsible for inspections, safety training and other certificate examinations. This agency is also responsible for providing search and rescue teams, maintaining industry statistics, developing and publishing training materials and other relevant functions.
During the 2016 legislative session, the West Virginia Code was updated with additional laws regulating miner’s health, safety and training.
During the 2017 legislative session the Senate introduced Bill 582, suggesting federal standards to replace state safety standards for West Virginia miners, and reducing standards at the state level. The State of West Virginia also has plans to cut the 2018 budget for the Board of Coal Mine Health & Safety by 3%. No one yet knows what this will mean for miners in West Virginia. There is concern that lack of accountability for mining companies could increase the risks incurred by miners working for companies that no longer have to fear retribution from unsafe conditions.
The Federal Government
Data from the US Department of Labor’s Mine Safety & Health Administration shows that West Virginia leads the US in coal mining fatalities.
To help reverse these trends, the MSHA has training courses available to the mining industry at its National Mine Health and Safety Academy in Beaver, West Virginia. The Academy’s objective is to increase mining safety and reduce accidents in the industry. From the course catalog, page 10:
The purpose of the Academy is to design, develop, and conduct instructional programs that will assist in government, industry, and labor efforts to reduce injuries, illnesses, and fatalities in the mineral industries.
Started in 1978 and boasting an online library (including a digital library), a catalog of training products, a course catalog and a mine simulation laboratory, the Academy offers a wide curriculum for all levels of the mining industry. The Academy’s instructors can also travel to conduct training onsite for companies who are interested.
More Mining Safety Training
In addition to the Academy, MSHA offers state safety grants, miners’ training, health and safety training, mine rescue training, (a requirement at every facility) and other industry-specific instruction that can be integrated into mandatory company training. Many of these courses are offered online, and a selection is available as low-cost DVDs.
If You’re An Injured Miner
While safety on the job is a priority in mining, accidents can still happen. Mining company employee injuries fall under Worker’s Compensation. That’s the first thing you should file for after a mining injury. But Worker’s Compensation may not be enough, especially if you’ve suffered severe, debilitating injuries that have brought considerable medical expenses or prevent you from working. If a mining accident has claimed the loss of a loved one, you can also recover compensation.
Mining Accident Representation
Chad Love has 20 years’ experience working with personal injury victims, including miners and victims of mining accidents. Call us today at 304-344-5686 or use our online contact form to get in touch. We’ll be happy to discuss your case, how we can help, and schedule a free consultation.