Approximately 44,000 adults work as coal miners across the United States. Roughly 40 percent of coal miners come from Pennsylvania. In fact, for centuries, Pennsylvania has been a leader in many types of mining.
Like many physical occupations, mining can be highly dangerous. That means coal miners are at a statistically higher risk of getting hurt or killed on the job than other types of workers. Although they can rely on Workers’ Compensation in the event of a workplace accident, most miners would prefer to never experience an injury at all. However, injuries happen frequently because coal mines are inherently risky places.
What Makes Coal Mining a Hazardous Occupation?
Mining activity tends to take place partially or entirely underground. Even when miners take all precautions, they can find themselves in harm’s way. The following are just some of the reasons that coal mining in particular is more hazardous than most occupational fields:
- Gases can spread throughout mine caves. A build-up of methane and other gases in the rock and soil can create an environment suitable for fires and explosions.
- The walls of caves can collapse. Many miners tell stories of cave-ins. Though mining companies take precautionary measures to bolster the walls of mines, the walls still may fall in and trap, wound, or kill workers.
- The atmosphere gets dusty. Coal mines become very dusty. When workers inhale silica and other particles, they may develop acute or chronic respiratory issues from asthma to silicosis.
- Water can flood into caverns. Flooding can happen underground very quickly. This leaves workers with little warning to get out and avoid injury.
- Electrical wiring is all around the mine shafts. Coal miners need electricity to operate anything from equipment to lights. All the wiring means the possibility of electrocution.
- Toxic chemicals and radon can make their way into mine shafts. When workers inhale noxious fumes and chemicals, they can be overcome. The same is true of radon, which has no odor and can cause unconsciousness or death quickly.
In addition to the aforementioned causes of injury among coal miners, workers are constantly exposed to loud noises, moving objects, slippery conditions, and complex tools. They also usually move objects during the normal course of work.
What Happens if a Coal Miner Gets Hurt in the Mine?
It should come as no surprise that coal miners can end up with almost any type of injury, from scratches and bruising to broken bones and internal bleeding. This is where Workers’ Compensation benefits come into play.
Workers’ Compensation benefits are meant to cover the full cost of medical treatment for coal miners after an on-the-job accident. Additionally, Workers’ Compensation benefits will cover a percentage of the coal miner’s lost wages. Ideally, miners who claim Workers’ Compensation will be able to return to their occupations once they are healthy.
Not all coal miners are fortunate enough to recover completely from injuries. They may have setbacks or get re-injured. In more complicated cases, coal miners may have trouble working with the Workers’ Compensation insurance carrier or their employer. For instance, the Workers’ Compensation insurance representatives may argue that an injury or re-injury did not happen at work. In some cases, they may deny the miner’s Workers’ Compensation claim from the very beginning.
In these situations, coal miners have the legal option of talking with a lawyer who focuses on the area of Workers’ Compensation. Lawyers can often assist coal miners in dealing with difficult or combative insurance company representatives. They can also provide advice based on other Workers’ Compensation cases.
Above all else, coal miners in Pennsylvania and around the nation should never hesitate to make a Workers’ Compensation claim after being injured during the course of work. They deserve to get care and not pay out of pocket for medical costs.
West Chester Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Wusinich, Sweeney & Ryan, LLC Protect the Rights of Coal Miners
If you are a Pennsylvania coal miner having trouble navigating the Workers’ Compensation process, reach out to the West Chester Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Wusinich, Sweeney & Ryan, LLC. Our legal team will advise you of your rights and fight to obtain the compensation you deserve. Contact us online or call us at 610-594-1600 for a free consultation today. We are located in Exton, Pennsylvania, where we serve clients throughout Downingtown, West Chester, Exton, Coatesville, Phoenixville, Malvern, Lyndell, Wagontown, Uwchlan Township, Parkesburg, Chester Springs, Lancaster County, Reading, and Morgantown.