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Are coal miners at a higher risk of work-related injuries?

A recent coal mining accident has resulted in tragedy. According to the West Virginia Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training, a miner who suffered serious injuries after being struck by a falling rock at the CK Mine No. 5 in Mingo County recently died from complications. The miner had been a section foreman for CK Coal Corporation.

Although the office is still investigating the incident, authorities believe a section of the roof fell, dislodging the rock. The accident underscores what may be common knowledge to many readers: Coal mining can be dangerous workplace. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently observed that workers in coal mining are more likely to suffer a work-related injury or illness than private industry workers.

According to the Bureau’s data, the rate of fatal injuries in the coal mining industry was almost six times higher than full time equivalent workers in private industry for the particular year under study. In terms of numbers, that translates into 24.8 injuries per 100,000 coal miners. Of those, the most frequent category of deadly coal miner accidents involved transportation incidents or contact with objects and/or equipment.

As with any fatal injury in the workplace, the employer generally is required to report the incident to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, as well as any state counterparts. In West Virginia the Division of Labor is the enforcing agency for the Occupational Safety and Health Act. That notification often prompts an investigation by federal OSHA employees.

In our next post, we examine some of the concrete steps that an attorney might take on an injured worker’s behalf.

Source: U.S. News, “West Virginia Office Says Miner Dies Following Injury,” April 7, 2017

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