Mining: Modern Safety

Table of Contents

Safety has long been a controversial issue in the mining business especially with sub-surface mining. While mining today is substantially safer than it was in the previous decades, mining accidents are often very high profile.

Mining ventilation is often seen to be a safety concern for many miners and their families. Poor ventilation of the mines causes exposure to harmful gases, heat and dust inside sub-surface mines. These can cause harmful physiological effects, even death. The concentration of methane and other airborne contaminants underground can generally be controlled by dilution (ventilation), capture before entering the host air stream (methane drainage), or isolation (seals and stoppings).

Methane gas is a common source of ignition for explosions in coal mines and can propagate into the more violent coal dust explosions. Explosions can be prevented or mitigated by eliminating ignition sources, minimizing methane concentrations and coal dust accumulations, generalized rock dusting, and by using passive and active barriers to suppress propagating explosions. High temperatures and humidity may result in heat-related illnesses, including heat stroke which can be fatal. Dusts can cause lung problems, including silicosis, asbestosis and pneumoconiosis (also known as miner’s lung or black lung disease). Most of these issues were not widely understood during the time of which Candles is set.

Today mining is regulated under the federal Mine Safety and Health Act by MSHA, which employs nearly one safety inspector for every four coal mines. Underground coal mines are thoroughly inspected at least four times annually by MSHA inspectors. In addition, miners can report violations, request additional inspections. Miners with such concerns for their work safety cannot be penalized with any threat to the loss of employment.

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