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2017 sees dramatic increase in coal mining deaths

In 2017, there were 15 coal mining deaths in the U.S., with eight fatalities occurring in West Virginia alone. Kentucky, Alabama, Colorado, Montana, Pennsylvania, and Wyoming were the other states that contributed to the total. Compared to this, 2016 saw a record low of eight deaths.

The cause of this increase may be an increase in coal production. According to estimates provided by Energy Information Administration, coal production rose by 8.9 percent over the previous 52 weeks. The coal-rich southern region of West Virginia saw a dramatic 25 percent increase, with the entire state seeing a 16 percent increase.

Eight of the deaths involved hauling vehicles, while two involved machinery. While gas and dust explosions have been responsible for past disasters, they did not lead to any fatalities in 2017. It should be kept in mind that over 50 years ago, in 1966, there were 233 deaths and that a century ago that number was over 2,000.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration has been considering new guidelines to protect underground mine workers from breathing in coal and rock dust, which are the principal cause of black lung disease. Exposure to diesel exhaust is another issue that can eventually lead to cancer.

On-the-job injuries are not confined to those that are immediately inflicted, like broken bones. Workers could, for example, develop repetitive motion injuries or become ill from gradual exposure to harmful chemicals. All of these give a victim good grounds to file for workers' compensation benefits. When someone suffers an injury in a mining accident, there might be grounds to file a separate personal injury lawsuit if the accident was caused by the negligence of a non-employer third party. An attorney can often provide advice in such a situation.

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