Facility-Advances-in-Mine-Safety-and-Education-ImageThe mining company Alpha Natural Resources recently opened a state-of-the-art education and training center in Julian, West Virginia, for miners, managers and mine rescue teams. Alpha developed the center under a non-prosecution agreement with the federal government following its purchase of the Upper big Branch mine, site of an explosion in April 2010 that killed 29 miners.

Alpha Natural Resources currently has mining operations in West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Wyoming.

Joe Main, the assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health and head of the Mine Safety and Health Administration spoke at the opening. The training opportunities it offers, as well as research and development undertaken since the disaster, “will enhance safety and health in our nation’s mines and, ultimately, save miners lives,” he wrote in a blog.

The 136, 000-square-foot campus will offer training and education for miners who work underground as well as surface miners and support personnel.

Students will be able to simulate mining emergencies in virtual reality simulators. In addition, labs are available for students to improve welding and electrical skills, learn the latest mine safety technologies and practice rescue techniques in scenarios that mimic the real world. Classes include certified examiner, emergency medical technician training and certification, and incident investigation as well as root cause analysis, risk management, and electrical and mechanical skills training.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 155 workers lost their lives in the mining industry in 2011 and thousands were injured or became ill as a result of workplace accidents or exposure to toxic substances. Over the last 10 years, 17 miners have lost their lives in workplace accidents in Pennsylvania coal mines, and nine others were killed in other types of Pennsylvania mines.

Mining is an industry that puts workers at significant risk for workplace injury and illness. Miners, whether underground or surface, typically work around heavy machinery as well as explosives that can cause injuries. Underground miners also live with the ever-present risk of a cave-in. Miners also may breathe in harmful substances or come into contact with toxic materials buried deep within the earth which is why they should always make sure they are wearing protective equipment such as work gloves, safety glasses, and face masks.

If you have been injured or become ill as a result of working in Pennsylvania mine, or have lost a close family member to a mine injury or illness, you may be entitled to benefits through the Pennsylvania workers’ compensation system.

Although the workers’ compensation system is intended to protect injured workers and their families, it can be difficult to navigate. If you have questions or concerns about your legal rights to compensation, contact the Worker’s Compensation at Shor & Levin, the Bulldog Lawyers, by calling 866-462-8553 or by using our online contact form.