Whether or not involved in the coal mining industry, most West Virginia residents know that coal mining is an extremely dangerous industry. The importance of following all safety protocol when working in or near a coal mine cannot truly be stressed enough. Serious injury and death can result to innocent workers in a mine due to the negligence of even just one person.
New evidence in fatal 1968 explosion
The Mine Safety and Health Administration, part of the United States Department of Labor, is the organization which oversees safety in mines nationwide. In 1990, the MSHA reportedly identified improper ventilation at a mine near Farmington was a contributing factor in a deadly explosion that occurred in 1968 according to the Wall Street Journal. In some areas, no ventilation at all was noted.
Ventilation plans are highly critical for coal mines due to the flammability of coal dust. In 2008, a memorandum written in 1970 regarding the explosion that was never brought forth was discovered. The memo indicated that on one of the mine’s fans, the safety alarm had been turned off preventing it from signaling to workers when the mine ceased to operate.
Armed with this new evidence, the estates of the deceased workers have initiated a lawsuit that names both the mining company and the estate of the mine’s top electrician as defendants. It asserts that the electrician knowingly disabled the fan and did not disclose that information.
How deadly is coal mining in West Virginia?
Stepping back from the 1968 accident, a look at MSHA statistics makes it evident that West Virginia coal miners face constant and serious risk of fatal accidents. Records from 2004 to 2015 show that West Virginia experienced far more deaths in coal mines than any other state in the nation.
Details include the following:
- In West Virginia, 119 coal miners died during that time.
- Kentucky had the second most number of deaths with 69 fatalities.
- Alabama lost 23 miners during that time.
- In Pennsylvania and Utah, 15 miners lost their lives.
Illinois and Virginia each lost 11 miners in fatal accidents during those years. Across the country, coal mining deaths range from 13 to 48 each year between 2009 and 2014.
What should victims do?
Any family member who has lost a loved one in a coal mining accident should consult with an attorney immediately. Getting help to seek compensation for the unnecessary death of a spouse or parent is important.