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Seven ways to improve mine safety

Mine operators and miners in West Virginia already know that the industry they work in sees its share of fatalities. In 2017, the U.S. Department of Labor reported 15 coal mine fatalities and 13 fatalities in metal and non-metal operations. With the following seven tips, though, operators will be able to make their facilities safer for everyone.

First, they should go wireless, turning in their hard-wired pagers for leaky feeder communication systems. With these, workers can quickly locate other workers and equipment. A second step is to use those leaky feeders to monitor the atmosphere; that way, operators can identify areas of poor airflow and ensure proper ventilation. Third, it is a good idea to consider automation so that employees can oversee machine operations remotely.

Another step is to supply miners with another portable device, namely self-contained rescuers. These provide oxygen to miners trapped underground or exposed to poisonous gases. Next, operators may want to have drones, which can create pit slopes at a steeper angle than if they were dug manually and can scan the mines for any hazardous materials.

Accidents involving wire ropes can be avoided with the use of synthetic rope, which has predictable recoil. Lastly, collisions with heavy vehicles can be prevented through proximity detection devices, which sound an alarm when the vehicles approach, and through satellite tracking technology.

If operators fail to take reasonable steps to ensure miner safety, they will only raise the risk for a mine accident. Victims will want a personal injury lawyer to evaluate their case and determine if the operator failed to adhere to federal safety regulations. Third-party investigators may be brought in to gather physical evidence found at the mine as well as any eyewitness testimony and other proof. The lawyer could negotiate on the victim's behalf for a fair settlement.

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