The Mine Safety and Health Administration is the part of the United States Department of Labor whose purpose is to examine every mine in West Virginia and the rest of the nation four times each year. The MSHA has been working to eliminate illnesses, injuries and death from mining and has been supporting healthy and safe workplaces for American miners since 1978.
Laws regarding the health and safety of miners can be traced back to 1910 with the development of the United States Bureau of Mines. The organization’s purpose was to research how to stop the excessive number of deaths in the mining industry, which, at the time, totaled almost 3,000 per year.
In 1969, the creation of the Coal Mine Health and Safety Act was prompted by the coal mine explosion in Farmington, West Virginia, that resulted in nearly 100 miners killed or never found. The law was expanded in 1977 so that it provided protection for all of the mines in the nation and still regulates the safety and health of miners in the United States today.
There were 311 miners who had died in coal mining accidents at the time the act was first created. By 2016, the number of deaths had dropped to just 12, a figure that represents the lowest annual fatality number in coal mining history. This was the result of a comprehensive overhaul of the MSHA’s operations. It required taking the backlog of contested citations and violations that numbered nearly 80,000 in 2009 and reducing it to 18,000 by 2016.
Mining industry workers who are injured due to cave-in accidents or any other mining-related incident should speak with a personal injury attorney. The attorney may work to ensure that the responsible parties are held accountable for the workplace violations that caused the accident.