Federal officials have ranked underground bituminous coal mining as one of the most dangerous jobs in the country, a fact that's not surprising to West Virginia miners or their families. The recent death of a 45-year-old coal miner near Cameron was the state's first mining fatality of the year.
A coal mine can be a dangerous place. Health threats exist in the air you breathe, the ground you dig and the tools and equipment you use. Toxin exposure, mine explosions and accidents are not uncommon.
Workers in West Virginia coal mines encounter dangerous circumstances many Charleston residents may find hard to imagine. An incapacitating respiratory illness may be caused by inhaling poisonous substances. Equipment failures and miscommunication can lead to permanent injuries. Death in a mine collapse may depend upon one person's careless attitude toward safety.