In less than a year, there have been over 1,100 non-fatal accidents and 8 deaths in coal mines across the United States, according to the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). Pennsylvania has some of the highest rates of injury. These figures point to the troubling fact that mining workers face dangers every day on the job.

Which injuries are most common?

People often assume that mining accidents and injuries happen underground. However, that’s not always the case. The MSHA reports that 250 of the 1,100 nonfatal accidents occurred at ground level, not beneath it.

Common causes of injuries on both the surface and underground include:

  • Machinery accidents
  • Explosions
  • Rock slides
  • Fires
  • Entrapment
  • Heavy lifting
  • Ventilation problems
  • Electrical shock

These injuries frequently affect the fingers, hands, back, shoulders and knees. Many miners who suffer severe injuries are unable to return to work for a long period of time – if at all.

Reducing the risk of injury

While some of these dangers go along with the territory of working in mining operations, that doesn’t mean workers should have to face unnecessary safety risks just to earn a living. There are numerous ways to stay safe on the job, including:

  • Slowing down between tasks to maintain focus
  • Staying alert to hazards
  • Undergoing frequent safety trainings
  • Maintaining machinery and protective gear in good working order

When miners are more aware of how they could get hurt – and employers invest more heavily in safety training – we could finally see a decline in accident rates.