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Powered haulage and machinery are behind many mine accidents

Most people are familiar with some common causes of mining injuries and fatalities. We've all followed the stories of miners who become trapped inside a mine. Explosions are another commonly-covered type of mining incident. There are all sorts of devices used in mines that can explode when placed under pressure. These include air tanks and hoses, and hydraulic lines and hoses, as well as manufactured explosives such as Cardox and Airdox. Workers can be hit by flying debris or simply injured by the force of the explosion.

According to the Mine Safety and Health Administration, which is part of the U.S. Department of Labor, however, most 2014 mining accidents involved powered haulage and machinery. Ten people were killed throughout the year in such accidents in coal mines alone.

The term "powered haulage" refers to equipment that transports materials and people. It includes, but is not limited to, rail and shuttle cars, conveyors, belt feeders, bucket elevators, cranes, cherry pickers and forklifts. Equipment such as wheelbarrows and vehicles that are pushed manually are considered "non-powered" haulage equipment.

Powered machinery refers to tools that are powered by air or electricity. Included in this category are tools like power shovels, drills, loading machines, slushers and tuggers.

Obviously, it is imperative that any powered equipment used by miners is in excellent working order. The consequences if a piece of equipment malfunctions can be fatal. It's also essential that miners who use this equipment be properly trained and adept at handling it.

While it's a given that coal mining is a dangerous profession, far too many mining accidents are preventable. When a miner is injured, it can mean the end of a career and of support for that miner's family. Mine fatalities can have devastating financial costs in addition to the emotional ones. It's always wise to get sound legal guidance to determine whether the mine owners and/or equipment manufacturers bear some responsibility for the accident and for compensating victims and families.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Mine Safety and Health Administration, "Classification of Mine Accidents," accessed June 16, 2015

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