One mining company manager has died from injuries suffered in a coal mining accident in West Virginia while two others had to be hospitalized. One of the miners has been released from the hospital. Workers from California to Maine migrate every year to work in the coal mines, and this accident raises more questions about what further measures should be taken to prevent injuries in the mines.
The accident occurred at a mining operation owned by Murray Energy, the largest coal mining company that is privately owned in the United States. Authorities believe the accident was caused by a faulty mine rib that caused the roof to cave in. An investigation is ongoing to determine the exact cause of the accident and if the accident could have been prevented. Representatives from the mining association state this is the third fatality this year in the mining industry nationwide and the first fatality in West Virginia.
The mining industry has been criticized for unsafe working conditions and for not changing the way in which nationwide safety standards are managed. According to the head of the University of Arizona's Department of Mining and Geological Engineering, mining follows a compliance-based system that needs to transition to a risk based system in order to effectively prevent injuries. Instead of only having safety protocols that are applied to every mine, owners should develop a list of compliance procedures and rules for each specific mine according to their geological risks.
Miners who are injured on the job suffer financially as well as physically due to less workers' compensation. Families are faced with paying mounting medical bills and living expenses with a much smaller paycheck. Because so many mining injuries could be prevented, those who have been injured could benefit from seeking legal advice to know their rights and get the financial protection they need.
Source: Reuters, "One killed, two hurt in West Virginia coal mine accident," Ian Simpson, March 9, 2015
Source: U.S. News "Experts: Coal Mining Deaths Preventable," Alan Neuhauser, May 15, 2014