Safety of Coal Mines

Topics: Coal Mining

Coal Miners have one of the most important jobs there is. They are the ones that power the world Miners put their lives on the line so that we can live a happy life in our homes will they spend their time away from their families in a hole, on the side of a mountain, or steep hills. They do get a break with high safety regulations coming from the Mining Safety and Health Administration. Even with all of their safety equipment, coal miners have one of the most dangerous jobs in the world since there are so many deaths each year.

Mining in the 1900s was a very dirty and hard job for those in the low class. Businesses did not care for the safety of workers because they just wanted money. Children would quit school for a mining jobs to help support their families. Most would die from a disease called Black Lung. This disease would give miners shortness of breath and a chronic cough until the coal dust would keep their lungs from taking in oxygen to the blood.

Miners would still face more hardships like these even in the days to come.

In 1907 Dec. 6 there was a massive explosion in West Virginia that claimed many lives. Kenneth J. Shenkman wrote an article saying that Monongah, West Virginia had a minecart in mine No. 6 fall back into the mine where there was an explosion shortly afterward. Many people believed that the real cause was a mishap with an explosive that ignited methane and coal dust in the air that caused the blast.

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The blast took the lives of 362 men and boys but some experts think the explosion took the lives of over 500 men and boys. Just two weeks after the Monongah explosion happened there was another explosion in Jacobs Creek, Pennsylvania that killed another 239 Miners.

In 2006 a mine explosion killed 37 miners in total, even though the company had spent billions of dollars on safety measures. An article by Tim Huber and Sam Hananel says a dozen miners did not get the chance to use the safety equipment because they were crushed by the cave in. The company spent money on keeping miners inside a cave in sustained instead of funding the prevention of a cave in. A Kentucky lawyer, Tony Oppegard, said that the Mine Safety and Health Administration needs to do six inspections of mining operations rather than the standard four inspections. Even the CEO of Massey Energy, Don Blankenship, believes that lawmakers should focus more on the prevention of explosions.

The Sago Mine in 2006 had one of the worst mining incidents in recent U.S. history. Early that morning the fire boss said the mine was safe and sent a group of thirteen miners followed by another fourteen miners. Josh Cable, Author of the Sago Mine Disaster, says there was an explosion so strong that people could feel and hear it from the surface. The second group of miners were lucky and were in between the explosion and the entrance of the mine when the explosion went off. Some of the second group tried to help their coworkers but to avail. Cable says the mine was filling with smoke and carbon monoxide forcing the remaining miners to retreat to the surface. Only one of the miners was rescued alive but in critical condition. They say that lightning causes the explosion by causing an abandoned pump to spark inside an area of concentrated methane.

Some of the blame for some of the mining accidents in recent years can be put onto the Mine Safety and Health Administration for not looking at the gaps in the Occupational Safety and Health Act as stated by George Miller. They have been so busy with making sure that a mining company follows regulations that they have not realized just how many times a mining company has broken its rules and has gotten away with it. MSHA was made to protect the miners but is making more and more mistakes by not doing a thorough check as often as they possibly can. In southwest Virginia, there have been many cases of miners getting black lung. The Supervisor was telling the miners to put their air monitors in the clean air intake to make it look like the miners were breathing clean air. All it would take to prevent this is to have an MSHA inspector check the air themselves. It is small problems like these that can lead to the death and unfair treatment of so many miners. Problems like these are the main reason there were strikes in the 1900s. It is just unacceptable that the same miners that provide our nation with power and fuel are treated in such away.

One of the tools miners use today that can very quickly and easily be misused are explosives. As stated by Paul Worsey during an interview with Chris Lo ‘That said, probably the majority of explosives in the US are used for overburden removal in surface coal mining. We mine more than one billion tons of coal every year, and the vast majority of that is from surface operations.” Explosives have an important job in the mining business but come with some major faults. When an explosive goes off it produces large quantities of carbon monoxide. This is not generally a problem for surface mining but can be extremely dangerous in any underground setting that requires any explosives. Between 1994 and 2005 eight miners were injured by the fumes alone. This does not even include the men that were injured because of falsely stated blast zones or even fly rocks, rocks that fly farther than normal falling debris. This is why many companies require heavy regulations for anyone even slightly involved with explosives. Plus whoever is around the explosives has to earn a certification and has to keep it on their person at all times when handling explosives.

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Safety of Coal Mines. (2022, May 10). Retrieved from

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