Another death highlights dangers of mining industry

Rock collapse kills miner, bringing total deaths this year to 14

A worker was killed at a Monongalia County mine early in November when a large section of rock collapsed onto him, according to the State Journal. The death marks the 14th coal mining death this year. Meanwhile, a recent report says that the citations federal authorities issue against unsafe mines may be having little impact since some mining companies simply don't pay the fines. The delinquent mines could even be putting miners at risk with lax safety standards.

Miner killed

The latest fatality to strike the mining industry happened Nov. 10 at a West Virginia coal mine. The 49-year-old miner was operating a roof bolting machine when a piece of rock, 5 feet by 3 feet, fell on his head. The man had been a miner for 27 years, according to reports.

MSHA say they are still investigating the accident. The death is the 14th accident this year in the coal mining industry, which represents a drop from the 19 deaths reported this time last year.

Delinquent mines dangerous

The safety of the mining industry was also called into question recently by an NPR report into unpaid citations by mining companies. The report found that about seven percent of mining companies are delinquent with their fines, with some companies owing millions of dollars. The problem, authorities say, is that MSHA has little power to shut down a mine that does not pay its fines, meaning mines can continue to operate despite citations against it mounting up.

The report also found that although the delinquent companies only account for a small percentage of the industry, they represent a disproportionate amount of mine injuries. The report, for example, found that injuries at non-delinquent mines were 3.0 per 200,000 employee-hours worked. At delinquent mines, however, that rate rose to 4.5 injuries per 200,000 employee-hours worked.

Mine injuries

While it is well known that miners have one of the toughest and most dangerous jobs in the world, mine operators should not feel as though they have free reign to ignore safety regulations. When a miner is needlessly injured or killed, it is not just he who suffers, but his entire family as well.

Families who have been affected by a mine accident should contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible. Such an attorney can help injured miners and their families learn about the options that may be available to them, including whether compensation can be sought to help cover the high expenses often caused by an injury.