Mining in Colorado and the surrounding area is one of the most perilous and unsafe industrial occupations. Miners work in small spaces and use powerful equipment to get their jobs done.
Recently, a Kentucky-based company was issued citations for safety violations that led to a fatal accident and injured workers in one of their mines. A technique called pulling pillars or retreat mining, was practiced at the mine where the fatal accident happened. The procedure involved cutting out the pillars that held up a roof as workers back up from base of the mine toward the top.
According to investigators, the work to cut the posts away became worse in the week and a half leading up to the accident, which happened last year.
A 29-year-old worker and another miner were starting their shift in a problematic area of the mine. Using a remote control, the 29-year-old worker was making a second cut with his mining equipment when the other miner he was with heard the roof snap and roof bolts break, investigators said. The other worker was then hit in the back by a corner of the falling slab, which then landed directly on the 29-year-old miner.
A third miner cut the second miner free, but the 29-year-old worker died at the scene of the accident. The equipment to hold up the already-weakened roof was too far away to prop up the 7-ton slice of rock that fell on the miner who died.
According to the report, the mine operator should have known that the roof control plan was not sufficient for the dangerous conditions the miners experienced. The operator knew about the deteriorating conditions, but continued to mine.
The more critical citation the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) issued to the mining company maintained that the company let mining continue even though the mining of coal from the walls had made the tunnel where the miner was working wider than the 20 feet that is allowable.
The worker who died left a family. His family has the right to know why the tragic accident happened and to get full and fair death benefits. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can provide information about what benefits may be available and how to pursue civil action against the mine for unsafe practices.
sltrib.com, “Company blamed for March death of coal miner” Mike Gorrell, Dec. 16, 2013