If you were to ask the average person about the most substantial risks for those working in mines, they might talk about dangerous gas leaks, lack of oxygen, cave-ins and the inhalation of particulate matter that can cause damage to the lungs. What they may not consider is the machinery commonly used as part of the process of mining.
Not all of those machines are deep within the mine. Some of them are right out on the surface. There are massive vehicles that weigh dozens of times as much as the typical personal vehicle that help move rock and other matter removed from the mines in the process of searching for coal or ore. Those large vehicles are absolutely a source of risk to miners on the job.
Big vehicles cause major damage and have huge blind spots
The vehicles that mining companies use to move rock and earth are gigantic. These vehicles can cause injury to workers walking nearby, as well as those in smaller vehicles in close proximity to these large machines. Their overall length and height contribute to large blind spots around the vehicles, which can mean that the driver doesn’t see people, equipment or other vehicles behind them or to their sides.
There have been many tragic incidents that result from the use of these vehicles. For example, in 2010 in Arizona, a miner sitting in his truck with another worker on Father’s Day morning wound up in the blind spot of one of these 240-ton vehicles. It completely crushed the vehicle, killing the owner of the truck, although the other worker was able to escape the accident.
While activists have pushed for enhanced safety features, like backup cameras on these vehicles, the industry has resisted efforts to mandate additional safety equipment on these large vehicles.
Miners hurt on the job and their families have rights after an accident
A miner who gets hurt on the job has the same rights as anyone else dealing with a workplace injury. They can potentially request workers’ compensation benefits to cover both their medical costs and their lost wages. For those who lose a loved one because of a tragic mining accident, death benefits that will cover both the medical costs incurred by their loved one and a portion of their wages may be an option.