Coal mining is one of the most dangerous jobs in America. Even mining for metal is safer than coal mining because coal is an explosive material. Because of the explosive properties in coal, there are safety regulations to keep coal miners safe. Unfortunately, employers do not always follow these rules, resulting in coalmining disasters and the tragic deaths of workers.
Worse, coal-mining companies often focus on ways to locate trapped miners after a collapse, rather than investing in the more expensive procedures and equipment needed to prevent them in the first place.
The Disregard of Safety Regulations
The safety directors employed by these companies are fully aware of the risks involved, yet have done little to improve the safety of miners, and in some cases, even lied when questioned by federal regulators. A New York Times article points out such an example. The safety director employed at the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia has been convicted of lying to federal regulatory investigators. He ordered the destruction of records of hazardous conditions at the mine. This mine is the site where 29 miners were killed in 2010. Massey Energy, owners of the mine, refused to do anything about the hazardous conditions. They only seemed interested in boosting their profits instead of ensuring the safety of the miners.
Safety Precautions Would Have Saved Lives
Nearly six years after a Sago mining accident in West Virginia, the Charleston Gazette reports that the remaining lawsuits filed by the families of those who were wrongfully killed in the explosion have been resolved. Federal safety investigators indicated that a lightning strike was the probable cause of the blast that happened inside of a sealed area of the Sago coal mine. The explosion ripped through the mine in the early morning of January 2, 2006. Following the explosion, 11 miners died after 40 hours of inhaling toxic fumes. The Mine Safety and Health Administration concluded that the Sago mining explosion was preventable. Proper methane monitoring, stronger seals and removing a pump cable from the sealed area would have prevented the explosion. The lawsuits filed by the families cited a long list of safety violations prior to the explosion.
Employer Negligence and Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Safety regulations should be followed at every coalmine. When they are not, disasters like the ones at Sago and Upper Big Branch Mine result. This is negligence at its highest degree. Until the mines become safer, lawsuits are the only way these flagrant violations can become widely known to the public. Perhaps after enough of these explosions and the lawsuits that follow, something meaningful will be done about the safety violations that put workers at risk in the coal mining industry.
Filing a wrongful death lawsuit is time-sensitive. The statute of limitations of the state in which you live will vary. It is important to act before the limitations prevent you from receiving the compensation you deserve. If you or a family member has been a victim of employer negligence, do not hesitate to contact us. We would be happy to discuss your potential case during a free consultation.