Coal mining is an inherently dangerous job. However, recent safety measures of the last few decades have made the occupation leaps and bounds more safe and sustainable for Illinois coal miners. In 1972, for example, 114 miners died in a single disaster in Saunders, West Virginia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). On a longer-term scale, the Mines Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) began tracking mining fatalities in 1978. The peak year for fatalities was 1979, a tragic year with well over 250 deaths.
Fatalities declined during the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, with just 45 fatalities in 2014. The improvements have come from strong enforcement of safety rules and regulations, better equipment and increased training, education, and technical support. However, there is still a long way to go before coal mining is considered safe and the number of fatal injuries reaches zero. If you have been injured working in the coal industry, contact an attorney for assistance in recovering workers’ compensation benefits
Fatal Coal Dust Levels Fall in Line with New Standards Set by the MSHA
In 2014, the MSHA set in motion a federal law that closed loopholes that allowed for unsafe levels of coal dust—levels that cause serious health problems for workers who are frequently exposed to the toxic dust. Coal dust or crystalline silica dust exposure causes chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, coal workers’ pneumoconiosis, silicosis, and other fatal and disabling diseases. Due to the MSHA’s new federal law, The CDC reports that 99 percent of coal mines fall within the administration’s new standards of coal dust safety.
Coal Mining in Illinois
On a state level, Illinois is the fifth largest producer of coal in the nation and one of the top three coal users, meaning that those who work in the Illinois coal mining industry have a big job in front of them. Coal miners deserve to be protected by their employers, and companies must ensure that all safety measures are taken at all times, that equipment is up to industry standards, and that profit never comes before the welfare of the workers.
If you have been injured or become sick due to your work, you likely have the right to receive workers’ compensation benefits. Such benefits can help cover your medical costs, lost wages while you are out of work, and rehabilitation expenses to make sure you get back on your feet as soon as possible. If your injuries are so severe that they render you incapable of work, permanent disability benefits may also be available.
To learn more about your rights regarding coal mining-related injuries or illnesses, contact an experienced Kane County workers compensation attorney. Call 630-907-0909 for a free consultation at Kinnally Flaherty Krentz Loran Hodge & Masur, P.C. today.