DANGEROUS JOB-COAL MINING

by Doug on October 12, 2009

Coal mining is considered one of America’s top ten most dangerous jobs.  There are more than 50 countries that produce coal, China leading the list.  Suffocation, gas poisoning, roof collapses, and gas explosions are just a few of the dangers that coal miners face, in addition to health risks, such as “black lung” disease.  Because China employs thousands more coal miners, their fatality rate is much greater than those in the U.S.

Coal produces more than one-half of the electricity for our nation.  In eastern states such as Kentucky, families of miners have been mining coal for generations.  Coal is the means of creating electricity, methanol, coke for steel manufacture, and fuel in power generators, referred to as steaming or thermal coal.  To make cement, extracts of iron from iron ore are used.

Through technological advancements, coal mining today is more productive than ever.  Computers furnish most of the safety monitoring systems, assisting the industry in keeping their workers safer.  PPE, such as hardhat lights, are standard equipment for miners.

The Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration has many suggestions to ensure the safety of mines, such as gas monitoring, gas drainage, electrical equipment, better ventilation, reducing the risks of rock falls, and measuring unhealthy air quality.  One cause of fatal injuries is collapsing rock pillars, which support rock between the mine and surface.  When the coal is extracted from these pillars once the coal has been mined, the pillars sometimes fall, trapping miners inside.

Cold weather is another hazard, as methane builds along with the unnaturally low barometric pressure.  The MSHA notes that every mine must have its individual ventilation plan to keep methane at safe levels.  Proper air pressure differential is essential in order to carry the level of gas away from working areas.  There should be regularly scheduled hazard inspections of air shafts, air movements and escape routes.

As coal dust can cause explosions, constant maintenance must be done on equipment that could be a source of sparks.  No smoking or smoking materials are allowed, as common sense would dictate.

When mining accidents are announced on the news, we realize how hard and risky their daily jobs are.  Their families carry on with their lives, but worry that an accident could happen any time.   When something goes wrong, we observe the dedication on the faces of the rescue workers to get to their comrades and bring them out safely.  Coal miners work in very restricted areas; one man compared it to working underneath your kitchen table for several hours.  I think I prefer sitting behind my desk!  But I do appreciate the history behind this industry, and those persons who help keep America moving forward.

{ 5 comments }

1 Los Angeles Home Protection Agency October 27, 2009 at 2:09 pm

A well written reminder of the efforts put into getting us electricity. If you don’t live near a mining town, then you just don’t get many reminders. glad I stumbled here.

2 Mike Cooper December 4, 2009 at 12:28 pm

Coal mining may be in the top 10 around the world but not in the united states. Coal Mining is safer than law enforcement, Fireman, construction, even the medical field is more dangerous. I wish the American public could find the truth about coal mining. It is extremely safe and coal can be burned clean. Very clean in fact. We all need to thank coal miners for the job they do for our country and for all the inexpensive power that coal brings to our homes and business’s.

3 Doug January 1, 2010 at 2:52 pm

Drawing a comparison between Chinese Coal production and U S Coal Production is like comparing Yugo Cars to Lincoln .While both drive down the road the similarities end right there. Many Men and Women both at the Coal Mines and with MSHA have dedicated their lives to making U. S. Coal production safe. The General public never gets to see inside this world until an accident occurs and the finger pointing begins. As with any profession the Mine Safety Field has much red tape and a lot of gray area but at the end of the day it is more dangerous to drive on the highway than it is to work in a mine in the U.S. So to characterize the mines the way you have is wrong. The General public while uneducated when it comes to mining is negatively affected when the media sensationalizes mining accidents. You need to look at all of the success stories in Mine Safety, you can start by taking a look at all of the improvements that have been implemented in the modern mining era. GET A CLUE before you blog about things you dont know about or dont tell the whole truth about!!

4 ashely graygon February 22, 2010 at 10:12 pm

i have a question, can air pressure kill a coal miner?

5 jared October 19, 2010 at 7:12 pm

to answer your question above, no air pressure cannot kill a miner, but there are many other factors that can. mainly roof falls or cave ins. although miners do work in doses of methane, which when methane mixes with coal dust and builds up, any small source from a spark to a flame can ignite causing an explosion. also most of the fatalities in mines are caused by accidents or misuse of equipment. and no to above you cant compare a coal miner to a police officer or fireman, i cant think of any policemen that have contracted Black Lung or have missing fingers and toes. my personal opinion is that coal mining is one of the most dangerous jobs in america. though people think MSHA is able to control saftey in a mine, they are wrong. a coal miner can never predict a cave in.

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