Cave-ins and collapses are the first things that most people think of when considering the dangers of working in the mining industry. There is an inherent fear of venturing underground and then finding the way back to the surface cut off by a collapse.
Historically, this has been a significant issue, and it continues to plague the industry to this day. That said, workers have far more protection now than they used to, from structural devices to protect against a collapse to communication devices that can help save lives and keep crews in contact.
That said, collapses are far from the only risks in this dangerous industry. Other risks include:
- Explosions, often caused by gas or even by explosives being used in the mine.
- The buildup of dangerous gases, such as carbon monoxide, that are invisible, tasteless and odorless — but still deadly.
- The buildup of methane gas.
- Explosion risks from coal dust. This is especially dangerous when it mixes with methane, when an exposed flame — or just a spark — may set it off.
- The risks of flooding in a mine exposed to high or unexpected water levels.
On top of all of this, miners also face dangers from heavy machinery and vehicles. Even if nothing goes wrong with the mine itself, working around this type of machinery can cause injuries, just as it does in construction, manufacturing and the like.
In such a dangerous profession, accidents are bound to happen from time to time. All workers need to understand the risks that they face and their legal options when injured.