As of the beginning of August, 10 coal miner deaths had been reported around the country, five of which occurred in West Virginia mines. This number has already passed the record low of eight coal miner fatalities that occurred in 2016. The spike in fatalities has the United Mine Workers of America saying that the federal mine safety agency is not doing enough to prevent accidents.
Those who are most at risk for suffering fatal mine injuries are workers who are new to a particular mine. Eight of the 10 workers who died had less than a year’s experience at the particular mine where they were working. Nine of those killed were not new to the mining industry and had worked at other mines for several years. A miner who died on July 25 was run over by a bulldozer after having only worked in a Pennsylvania mine for nine months.
In response to the increase in coal miner fatalities, the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration began sending officials out to the different mines to observe and train those who were working at new and unfamiliar mines. However, the officials were barred from sanctioning mines that had safety violations. As such, it is not expected that the safety suggestions will carry the same weight as potential punishments.
When coal mines violate safety regulations, workers are put at serious risk for debilitating injuries or even death. For example, roof falls, explosions and improper training can all lead to an accident that could have been prevented. A mining accident attorney could help victims seek appropriate compensation for their losses.