Miners in Pennsylvania face many hazards on the job, and winter can be an especially dangerous time. Some of the deadliest U.S. mining accidents have occurred during the month of December when cold temperatures and dry air create more hazardous conditions. In December 1984, a mine fire in Utah killed 27 miners, and in December 1992, eight miners were killed in an explosion in Virginia.
Mine operators must be cognizant of the winter mine hazards that affect underground mines and the surface work areas around them. When barometric pressure drops in cold weather, the atmospheres of underground coal mines can have more methane gas. On top of that, dry air underground can cause more coal dust to be suspended in the air. Both of these risk factors may contribute to an explosion if they are not kept under control.
On the surface work area around a mine, there may be slippery walkways and limited visibility during the cold winter months. Mine operators must take the time to eliminate ice and snow from surface work areas and make sure that underground mines are properly ventilated. Mine operators should also make sure to examine all work areas at a mine frequently in the winter to look for hazards.
Miners that are injured during the winter may have to take several weeks off of work in order to recover from their injuries. If an injured miner was the sole breadwinner in the family, lost working days could be financially devastating. An attorney could be of assistance in the preparation and filing of a workers’ compensation claim that could help to ease some of the financial burden.