On behalf of The Frickey Law Firm posted in Workers’ Compensation on Wednesday, September 4, 2013.
About 12,000 people work in Colorado mines, according to state employment figures. Miners’ jobs aren’t glamorous, but they can be dangerous. Unsafe working conditions have led to illnesses like black lung, and severe injuries and deaths due to cave-ins.
Mine safety in Colorado and across the U.S. has improved tremendously over the last few decades. Unfortunately, much of what mining experts know about on-the-job safety has come as a result of disasters like the 2007 Crandall Canyon tragedy in nearby Utah. A half dozen coal miners were buried when roof pillars collapsed during retreat mining – removing pillars after a completed excavation while “retreating” back to a mine entrance. Three rescuers also died.
Mining safety standards are regulated by state and federal laws. Some miners and mining authorities complain safety rules, like computer-generated federal guidelines for pillar stability, do not account for the individual differences among the nation’s mines. Rocks are just not as predictable concrete or steel, according to critics of the uniform mining regulations.
Far fewer deaths have been recorded in U.S. retreat mining than before the Crandall disaster. Between 2008 and 2012, two miners were killed during retreat cave-ins. In the five year period prior to that time, 13 workers died while retreat mining.
While fatality rates have plummeted since the passage of the Mine Safety Act in 1977, workers and heads of organizations that represent them feel the industry is largely ignored by lawmakers. According to a mine commission report, Colorado mines are one of the least regulated in a 12-state area.
Workers’ compensation benefits are available for victims of mine and other at-work accidents or illnesses. Families whose loved ones die on the job also are entitled to benefits from workers’ compensation. In some cases, a liability lawsuit is necessary to recover damages for accidental injury or death caused by a third party.
deseretnews.com, “Special report: When a miner dies, does anybody care?” Amy Joi O’Donoghue, Aug. 26, 2013