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You Shouldn't Have To Fight For Workers' Comp Benefits

New mining safety rule takes effect to reduce workplace injuries

Like many regions in the Appalachian Mountains, parts of Pennsylvania have a rich tradition of mining. But as generations of residents will attest, the business poses significant risks for those who work extracting valuable materials from the earth. The Mine Safety and Health Administration, an arm of the U.S. Department of Labor, gave roughly 158,000 citations to mines around the country in 2011 for rules violations.

Slightly less than half of that total was given to below-ground coal mines. That figure is out of proportion to the number of the nation's underground coal mines, which constitute only 4 percent of mines. Earlier this month, however, MSHA took steps to protect coal miners and reduce the likelihood of workplace accidents when its new mine safety rule became effective.

The rule builds off of years of research into breaches of safety and health regulations at underground coal mines. MSHA found that a number of the same violations kept appearing, which presented a risk of workplace injuries to miners. In response, MSHA's new rule requires frequent inspections to detect and repair problems that could pose a health or safety risk to employees.

In particular, the rule mandates that operators ensure compliance with nine standards, which include roof guarding, dust generated from mining activities, methane levels and ventilation of mine shafts, among others. Operators will have to keep a log of any violations and note the steps taken to bring non-compliant conditions up to par. While safety regulations aim to reduce harm to workers, the law provides another safety net when accidents do occur.

Source: United States Department of Labor, "MSHA's 'examinations' rule for underground coal mines effective Aug. 6," Aug. 6, 2012.

• Those who develop medical conditions or suffer injuries related to their work may be eligible for workers' compensation. If you would like more information on our firm, please visit our Bucks County workers' compensation page.

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