When the average person thinks of the coal mining occupation, they probably think of cave-ins and explosions – the mining dangers often reported in the news. But did you know there’s another serious threat to the health of coal miners that’s not often discussed? For years, workers in coal mines were exposed to asbestos.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that “employees in coal mining are more likely to be killed or to incur a non-fatal injury or illness, and their injuries are more likely to be severe than workers in private industry as a whole.” In fact, the rate of fatal injuries in the coal mining industry in 2007 was 24.8 per 100,000 fulltime equivalent workers, nearly 6 times the rate for all private industry.
It was dangerous work years ago, and it remains so today.
Coal Miners & Asbestos Exposure
When we talk about coal miners and asbestos exposure, we’re not just talking about the mining of asbestos, which fortunately no longer occurs in the United States. We’re also talking about other methods of mining, such as mountaintop mining, which use explosives to break up layers of rock. These explosives can disturb natural asbestos deposits in the land and release toxic fibers into the air, making the working conditions dangerous to even the modern coal miner. Once inhaled, even the tiniest of asbestos fibers settle into the lungs and increase risk of disease.
Certain products and equipment used by coal miners on the job could also have contained asbestos, increasing risk of exposure. Using the products could release asbestos into the air, or asbestos fibers could drift onto clothing and be carried home with the coal miner to his/her home, where secondhand exposure could occur among family members.
As you can see, there are a variety of ways coal miners could be exposed. Products used by coal miners that could contain asbestos include:
- Chemical pipes
- Continuous mining machines
- Electrical components
- Hoist machines
- Motor controls
- Shuttle cars
- Wastewater removal piping
Help for Coal Miners & Their Families
It doesn’t matter how much asbestos exposure happened: any level of exposure can increase risk of asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma. And since mesothelioma has such a long latency period – anywhere from 20 to 50 years or more – someone who was exposed to asbestos decades ago could just now be diagnosed with the deadly cancer.
Many coal miners’ employers knew about the dangers of asbestos and refused to protect or inform their workers. Today, Sokolove Law is standing by the victims of this deceit by helping them seek the justice they deserve. As a mesothelioma law firm with nearly 40 years of experience in the industry, you can trust our commitment to finding justice for mesothelioma patients.
Contact us today for a free legal consultation to see if we can help you.