Working in a coal mine, you already know that there is a risk of exposure to coal dust and silica. These can lead to lung damage that causes chronic coughs or shortness of breath. Today, most workers can avoid these issues thanks to the personal protective gear that is provided on the job. Those who do develop issues may also have access to workers’ compensation.
In a mine collapse, you could find you’re exposed to a large amount of dust and debris that can have life-altering effects, especially if you lose your mask or gear. In the immediate moment, that kind of dust and debris could set off a person’s allergies, make it difficult to get enough oxygen and lead to hypoxia or even trigger asthma attacks.
Mine collapses are dangerous for multiple reasons, but the poor air quality within a mine is a serious concern. Workers who are trapped over a lengthy period of time could face higher levels of exposure to coal, silica, dust and debris, all of which can lead to complications in the respiratory system.
Simply being exposed to these hazards can cause irritation to the lungs, nose and airways. Lung function may decline, and victims of the collapse may need supplemental oxygen to get enough oxygen into their bodies.
If you are trapped in a collapse, remember to keep your protective equipment on. If you have lost it, try to cover your mouth with a cotton cloth or other material. That will help you minimize your exposure to fine particles and debris that could impact your lung function or lead to trouble breathing while you’re waiting for help to arrive.