- Coal mining: one of most dangerous US professions
- June 2, 2015
The death toll in the April 2010 coal mining accident at the Upper Big Branch Mine in Comfort, W.Va., totaled 29, making it the most deadly explosion to occur in 25 years. Its cause remains unknown. Authorities drilled ventilating holes and bulldozed a path to the mining area. Rescue crews were forced to call off rescue efforts for four remaining miners due to the risk imposed by toxic levels of methane and carbon dioxide.
Families remained hopeful that the four miners would be found alive, as the airtight mines are equipped with four days’ worth of food and water supplies. A number of breathing devices were also missing from storage, fueling the hope that the miners had them in their possession.
The accident sparked questions over mining safety measures. In 2009, the mine was cited with 50 “unwarrantable failures,” the most serious infractions imposed by the Mine Safety and Health Administration, CNN reports.
Mining is considered one of the most dangerous, and therefore costly, jobs in the U.S. Dangerous jobs increase the risk of on-the-job injuries and fatalities, resulting in costly healthcare and higher life insurance premiums, citing the need for more stringent regulations.
For statistics on coal mining fatalities, see this table from the National Mining Association.
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