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Mining Deaths on the Rise

Mining is one of the most dangerous professions in the world and a recent increase in miner deaths indicate there is no improvement in sight.

Following several recent coal mining accidents throughout the Ohio Valley, the current total of 12 miner deaths this year has surpassed 2016 and already reached 2015 levels. Eight mining deaths occurred in all of 2016.

The spike in incidents has mining safety officials concerned and some say the spike is especially troubling because there are fewer miners on the job. Mining employment has seen a slight uptick since the Trump administration took control, but overall it is still low. A significant increase could mean an even greater spike in incidents.

According to Davitt McAteer, a veteran mine safety advocate and former leader of the US Mine Safety and Health Administration during the Clinton administration said, “You don’t want to bring them back and send miners to their deaths because you’re not paying attention to safety. I’m very much in favor of bringing the miners back. It’s a question of, are they brought back in a way that protects them?”

Why are Mine Safety Experts Concerned?

For starters, the current presidential administration has yet to fill a safety vacancy. The Trump administration recently installed a temporary appointment of the position McAteer once held with Wayne Palmer, but the United Mine Workers of American criticized the appointment, stating that Palmer had no experience in mining health and safety.

There has also been a recent emphasis in compliance assistance over enforcement, which experts say always causes the fatality rate to rise.

Mining safety advocates want laws and regulations enforced, and believe mines should be punished when they are in violation of regulations. The compliance assistance approach is known for producing, at best, mixed results, and often results in a spike in mining disasters, as was the case with the Sago disaster and the Darby explosion.

Safety experts want strict enforcement of regulations and believe companies should be held accountable when they are found in violation. They also believe an enforcement approach is proactive and preventative by discouraging mines from skirting the rules.

Miners face enough risk without having to be concerned about whether or not their employer or a third-party is putting them at greater risk. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a mining accident, we can help. For more information or to discuss the circumstances of your case, contact Heaves Law at 888.897.5377.

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