There has been a disturbing number of coal mining deaths in West Virginia and throughout Appalachia during the past few years. Workers have been killed in machinery and equipment accidents, roof falls and rib rolls, explosions, slips and falls, electrical accidents, and many others. There have been multiple recent incidents of electrocutions in coal mines, which can happen when companies fail to follow proper safety protocols.
Mining in general is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. Many things can go wrong when you work underground, and it is incumbent upon mining companies to take all measures possible to keep their workers safe. Unfortunately, many of these companies have chosen to put profits before people, and over the years, this has resulted in an untold number of senseless deaths and serious injuries among coal mine workers.
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a coal mining accident, call the experienced attorneys at Bailey, Javins, and Carter, L.C. for a free consultation. We have successfully represented coal miners in West Virginia since 1970. We understand the industry and the dangers involved with working in the mines, and we put our extensive experience to work to fight hard for every dollar of compensation our clients deserve.
Numbers Show Coal Worker Safety in Decline
Every year, numerous workers are killed in coal mines in the U.S. But the number of worker fatalities had been falling up until a few years ago. In 2009, for example, the total number of annual fatalities nationwide fell below 20 for the first time. And 2016 saw the lowest number of miner fatalities on record.
But coal miner deaths rose sharply in 2017, and 2018 ended tragically when three miners were killed over an 11-day period. There have been several more tragic coal mining deaths in 2019, including two just recently from electrical accidents in West Virginia mines. Many experts are starting to see a troubling trend.
The number of coal mine worker fatalities may be lower today than it was a decade or two ago, but this does not mean that the mines are any safer. There are only about one-fifth the number of mines in operation today as there were just six or seven years ago, and the number of deaths per 100,000 mining workers was actually higher in 2018 than it was in 2009.
On top of all this, an NPR investigation revealed last year that more than 2,000 individuals who have worked in coal mines throughout Appalachia have developed the most severe form of black lung disease. And sadly, these cases could have been prevented. For decades, regulators had evidence that excessive and toxic mine dust exposure could cause this condition, and they took no action to stop it.
At a time when coal companies need to do more to prevent mining deaths, the government seems to be moving in the opposite direction. For example, regulatory agencies have removed “pattern of violation” (POV) status from some mines with poor safety records, apparently giving in to the lobbying efforts of the coal industry.
Electrical Hazards in Coal Mines
Mining is one of the most hazardous industries when it comes to working with electrical power. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the electrical fatality rate in the mining industry is approximately 8 to 12 times higher than other industries in the United States.
To keep electrical workers safe underground, coal companies must follow government safety standards to the letter, and careful planning and documentation must be done at every step from start to finish. Here are some of the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) best safety practices for preventing electrical tragedies like the ones we have seen recently:
· Lock out and tag out the electrical circuit;
· Control hazardous energy to the design and arrangement of the disconnecting means;
· Properly install warning labels;
· Before performing troubleshooting, develop a plan and communicate and discuss the plan to ensure the task can be completed without creating hazardous situations;
· Ensure that employees wear properly rated and maintained electrical gloves;
· Ensure that employees have been properly task-trained for the assigned task.
Injured in an Electrical Mining Accident? Call Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C. for Legal Help
At Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C., we have successfully handled cases for electrical workers who have been injured or killed in coal mines and all other types of coal mine accident cases. We are not intimidated by the coal industry and their vast resources, and we will stand by your side to provide the strong legal counsel and moral support you need during this difficult time.
Call our office today at (800) 497-0234 or (800) 296-6979 or message us online to schedule a free consultation with a member of our legal team.