The 1977 Mine Act was intended to give miners in West Virginia and other states certain rights. Amended in 2006, it’s still a piece of legislation that gives miners important job-related rights. The legislation also encourages both employers and miners to work together to develop and implement effective safety and health programs that reduce instances of workplace injuries, illnesses, and deaths.
Legally, miners have several rights, one of which is the right to file or make a complaint if there are possible safety violations that could result in cave-in accidents or other serious incidents. Such complaints may be filed with a state or federal agency, the operator of a mine, a miner’s representative or an operator’s agent. Additionally, miners have a right to participate in various proceedings related to complaints, alleged safety violations or filings with the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission.
Should a workplace have potentially harmful substances, miners have the right to a medical evaluation. They also have the right to be transferred to another job site because of health-related reasons. For instance, a miner diagnosed with black lung disease can be transferred to a site with less dust exposure. Miners can also exercise available statutory rights or opt to leave a mine if they haven’t received the necessary health and safety training. While miners have a right to leave a workplace because of unsafe conditions, the operator must first be notified to give them a chance to address the issue(s).
If safety concerns that were reported and subsequently ignored result in mining injuries, a lawyer could help secure appropriate compensation for the victim. In addition, an attorney might be able to take action against third parties who were responsible for injuries or specific job site incidents. In certain types of mine-related accidents, an injured worker could be included as part of a larger settlement.