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Inexcusable safety hazards found at West Virginia's Eagle 3 Mine

During the last 46 years, 76,000 people have died of black lung disease or coal miners’ pneumoconiosis, according to the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration. Coal mining injuries and illnesses are no strangers to West Virginia miners or their families. A new rule to further reduce chances of black lung among miners will go into effect at the beginning of next month.

The U.S. Department of Labor website outlines the provisions in the rule, which will roll out over two years. Mine operators will have to meet new dust standards, including more frequent and real-time sampling. Mines will be required to take immediate steps to correct any excesses of coal dust.

Coal dust issues were a factor when MSHA inspectors came down hard on a coal mine near Glen Rogers late last month. The Eagle 3 Mine, owned by Rhino Resource Partners and Patriot Coal Corporation, was slapped with more than three dozen safety violations. A labor official called the conditions at Eagle 3 “dangerous” and inexcusable.

The Wyoming County underground mine owners apparently were endangering employees by failing to follow safety plans for controlling coal dust and methane. The ventilation system also was inadequate throughout the mine. MSHA determined the mine was rife with explosion, black lung and other safety hazards; a federal official said Eagle Mine 3’s safety negligence was a perfect reason for instituting the new coal dust rules next month.

Miners who inhale coal dust can develop lung diseases other than coal miners’ pneumoconiosis, like progressive massive fibrosis and emphysema. As Charleston families know, those diseases can lead to permanent miner disability and death. Sometimes workers’ compensation benefits aren’t enough to help cover a coal miner family’s needs.

Coal mining injury attorneys can assist injured and ill coal miners with workers’ compensation claims. When applicable, a lawyer will help victims and families pursue liability lawsuits against negligent third parties.

Source: Source: WOWK-TV, "Wyoming County coal mine issued 38 health, safety violations," Sarah Tincher, July 9, 2014

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