If a coal mine explodes in West Virginia or elsewhere, it can be caused by coal dust, methane or a combination of the two. Methane can be controlled by using fans that help keep levels at lower than explosive concentrations. It is also possible to drill drainage holes to let the gas escape prior to mining.
Typically, coal dust explosions tend to be more significant than methane explosions. This is because the coal dust is usually forced into the air after a minor methane explosion. Once it is in the air, it can be lit by a number of different sources before spreading and creating new toxic gases throughout a mine. Depending on where an explosion takes place, it could result in a detonation. Limestone powder is laid down regularly throughout a mine to keep the potential for an explosion to a minimum.
After an area has been abandoned within the mine, it should be sealed off to prevent an explosion or detonation. Furthermore, there should be constant monitoring of methane levels as well as coal dust levels. Using the right equipment while mining can help reduce the odds for a mining incident. For instance, water sprays can be used to cool the cutting bit and reduce the size of the hot streak that is created.
Those who are hurt in dust or gas explosions could be entitled to workers compensation benefits. If a worker dies in such an explosion, a death benefit may be paid out to a worker's spouse or other family members. Unlike a personal injury case, benefits in a workers compensation case are generally available regardless of what caused the accident to happen. An attorney may help a worker who has had an application denied.