Mines are and always have been dangerous places to work. The workers usually receive a premium in pay for working in these hazardous places which their families enjoy. However, like the disaster in Utah, the mining industry can be extremely unsafe. Each and every time workers descend down the large shafts they are taking a risk.
Even throughout history mining has been considered an unsafe occupation. In 1907 3,000 occurred due to fires, collapses and explosions. In Monongah West Virginia 358 people were killed due to a mine explosion. In 1917 163 men were killed in Montana due to a shaft fire. Current mining deaths are less then a hundred per year which means mining safety is increasing.
1910 the U.S. Bureau of Mines was started to investigate accidents, act as advisors, safety research and teach about mining safety.
The Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969 and the Federal Mine Safety and health Act of 1977 was passed to protect workers, training miners, encourage progressive technology and eliminated mining hazards.
In 1973 the creation of the Mining Enforcement and Safety Administration and again in 1977 the Mine Safety and Health Administration was developed. This is now part of the Labor Department.
The Occupational Health and Safety Administration are responsible for encouraging workplace safety not only among miners but for everyone.
Risks Miners Face:
Even with all of these legislative acts and power, miners still face considerable risks. The biggest risks are in gases, fires, and collapses. Each of these pose unique risks to the miner that are certainly minimized but never avoided.
Gases: Methane, firedamp, as well as other gases. Deep within the earth there are pockets of gas and particles in the air that circulate as workers are digging. Some of these gases are explosive and other will simply choke you to death.
Collapses: Collapses happen when the earth and rock is not structurally sound. When mines change their strategies but don’t do the research they can cause a major collapse in the earth. Imagine metal poles holding up millions of tones of rock. A single shift in the soil may make the whole place collapse.
Fires: Most fires are causes by the gasses and particles in the air that circulates as workers engage in their daily activities. A single spark from equipment or a lamp can cause an explosion within the shaft. Since there are few places for the explosion to go it travels much further through the shaft.