Why Coal Mine Workers Fatalities Are On The Rise

Coal miner helmet

In 2016, the Mine Safety and Health Administration announced that coal miner fatalities had reached an all-time low, with only 9 reported deaths taking place the entire year.

However, 2017 already saw an increase in the number of coal miner deaths on duty rose to 15 deaths, with 8 of them occurring in the first half of 2017.

The concern now is that coal miner deaths are on the rise- but what exactly is causing these numbers to grow?

Looking at the Available Data

The Associated Press reported on the circumstances these deaths took place, which can also explain why these numbers are on the rise.

The leading cause of death for coal miners seems to involve hauling vehicles, while a close second is deaths caused by heavy machinery. So while the risks involving explosions have been significantly reduced, it seems other risks have not been properly addressed.

Additionally, worker experience also seems to play a rather important role. Seven out of the eight coal miner deaths in the first half of 2017 involved miners with one year or less experience at the mine, while six deaths involved miners with less than a year experience on the job. This lack of experience could be explained by a younger workforce, who also lack proper training to prepare these workers to face difficult situations in the workplace.

The rebound of coal production may also explain the rise in fatalities according to some experts. Coal production increased by 15% from 2016 to 2017, and some believe this increase may have been done too hastily, and the companies could not accommodate larger productions properly.

Can You Stay Safe?

Understanding why these deaths happen opens a critical discussion regarding what can be done to keep miners safe at their workplace.

The most obvious move in this context is for companies to push for stronger training programs to prepare young workers to face the difficulties of the mine, and know how to protect themselves and use the equipment adequate.

But apart from that, mines really need to have in place rigorous safety rules and procedures, which all workers know and abide by. This can even help teach the workers how to act when one of the miners get hurt as a way to minimize damages and perhaps even save lives.

What Can You Do?

If you were injured while working in the mine, you may be wondering if you can access workers’ compensation benefits. Missouri does cover mining injuries, apart from ‘black lung’ injuries. Workers comp is a state-run program, and miners with black lung are not covered by it. However, you are covered by the federal program run by the Division of Coal Mine Workers’ Compensation.

If you’re unsure which program covers your injuries, reach out to a St. Louis workers comp lawyer to ensure your legal right to compensation is legally protected. Give us a call 24/7 at (314) 361-4300 for a FREE consultation.

Updated: February 7, 2020