While many North Carolina professions are dangerous, mining can be one of the most hazardous jobs. However, the Mining Safety and Health Administration provides oversight of the industry to ensure that conditions are as safe as possible. Established in 1978, the agency’s influence has resulted in a consistent downward trend in mining fatalities. In fact, the 2015 statistics represent a decrease of 88 percent in mining deaths since the agency’s inception.
A combination of factors are believed to have contributed to the low numbers in 2015, including enhanced safety efforts and significant numbers of mine closures. Representatives of MSHA note that the closures and related layoffs may be part of the reason for the lower death rate. However, they place greater emphasis on the fact that safety measures continue to be improved as problem mines are monitored. An example of such efforts is the agency’s impact inspections that were implemented after a mining disaster in 2010. The April explosion in a West Virginia coal mine caused the deaths of 29 individuals and was considered one of the worst mining accidents on record in the United States.
As these special impact inspections continue to be used, special efforts are also made to address sites with habitual safety infractions. Prosecution of those responsible for refusing to comply with safety standards may continue to provoke improved oversight throughout the industry. In the latter part of 2015, the CEO of the mining company associated with the 2010 accident was found guilty on charges of conspiracy to disobey industry safety requirements and will serve up to one year in prison.
Although safety regulations are designed to prevent workplace injuries, workers’ compensation coverage is designed to provide for an employee’s medical care and lost wages if an accident does occur. If an injured employee encounters problems with a claim being honored after a workplace accident, legal assistance might be helpful for addressing the situation.