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Mining Accidents a Major Concern in Pennsylvania

The recent incident involving a Lincoln County miner’s death was caused by a rock that fell between roof bolts, according to the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA).

The miner, Dennis Fillinger of Harts, West Virginia, was injured at the CK Mine No. 5 near Williamson in Mingo County in February. Fillinger received first aid at the scene and was then transported to a medical center, where he remained until his death on April 6th. Fillinger was a section foreman for CK Coal Corporation.

The MSHA, an agency that works to prevent death, illness, and injury from mining, and promotes safe and healthful workplaces for miners by developing and enforcing safety and health rules for all US mines by providing technical, educational, and other types of assistance to mine operators, described details of the incident in its Fatalgram Report for 2017 Coal Fatality #5, stating “The rock fell from between roof bolts and was approximately 3 feet by 2 feet by 3 to 4 inches thick.”

The report went on to describe Best Practices that could be used in the future to prevent similar accidents and included recommendations such as:

  • Install the most effective roof “skin” control technique, screen wire mesh, when roof bolts are installed. Most roof fall injuries are caused by rock falling from between roof bolts (failure of the roof skin).
  • Conduct thorough examinations of the roof, face, and ribs where persons will be working and traveling; including sound and vibration testing where applicable.
  • Scale loose roof and ribs from a safe location. Danger-off hazardous areas until appropriate corrective measures can be taken.
  • Be alert for changing conditions and report abnormal roof or rib conditions to mine management and other miners.
  • Correct all hazardous conditions before allowing persons to work or travel in such areas. Install and examine test holes regularly for changes in roof strata.
  • Propose revisions to the roof control plan to provide measures to control roof skin hazards.
  • Know and follow the approved roof control plan and provide additional support when cracks or other abnormalities are detected. Remember, the approved roof control plan contains minimum requirements.

According to the report, this is the fifth fatality of 2017 in the coal mining industry, which is two more than had occurred at this point in 2016. There were no “fall of roof” fatalities in 2016.

Miners Face Danger on a Daily Basis

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), mining is the third most dangerous job based on fatality rates behind only two other industries: Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing, & Hunting and Transportation & Warehousing.

In 2010, the BLS called mining a “… relatively dangerous industry” in which employees “… are more likely to be killed or to incur a non-fatal injury or illness, and their injuries are more likely to be severe than workers in private industry as a whole.”

Coal mining accidents also tend to produce more serious injuries. According to the BLS:

“In coal mining, the rate of injuries and illnesses with days away from work was 2.6 per 100 full-time workers in 2008, more than twice the rate for the private sector as a whole. The bituminous coal underground mining rate was 3.9 per 100 full-time workers, more than three times the total private industry rate.”

Injured in a Coal Mining Accident?

Coal mining is an important industry in Pennsylvania and throughout the area, which means there is a high rate of workers injured in mining accidents. These people are a part of our community and deserve to be treated with respect and dignity – and compensated when they are injured while on the job.

If you have been injured in a coal mining accident or you have lost a loved one who worked in a coal mine, we want to help.

Sorting through the aftermath of a coal mining accident is a complicated process. At Heavens Law, we have many years of experience fighting for the rights of coal miners and their families. We have an in-depth knowledge of the industry, as well as experience working with mining companies.

To learn more or to schedule a free consultation to discuss the details of your case, contact 888.897.5377.