There are many possible risks in a mine, but people often only focus on the kinds of incidents that make the news, like cave-ins and explosions. Stories about mining accidents that actually reach the general public are often dramatic.
However, some of the biggest risks on the job won’t necessarily produce dramatic video footage or make a compelling story on the evening news. The air that you breathe while working in a coal mine could potentially lead to major medical issues.
Coal mine methane is one of the biggest safety and health concerns for those working in modern mining operations.
High levels of methane in the air can be a health risk
Coal mines often produce levels of methane that would be unsafe to workers. In some areas, workers may have to wear respiration devices to protect themselves. Other times, the company may invest in ventilation to remove methane and keep clean air coming into work areas.
Inhaling too much methane can lead to feelings of sickness and signs of impairment, like slurred speech, vomiting and headaches. Eventually, people will lose consciousness and could die.
Methane in the air could also cause an explosion
Methane is a highly flammable gas, and the more of it that accumulates in a space, the greater the risk of combustion or explosion. Monitoring methane levels, providing proper ventilation and training about safety risks are all ways for employers to help those working in coal mining avoid serious injuries on the job.
Workers sickened or injured due to methane at their place of work may have grounds for a worker’s compensation claim for lost wages and medical expenses due to the mining methane exposure.