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Inspectors plan to reverse upward trend in mining deaths

Mine operators in Pennsylvania can expect increased inspections from the Mine Safety and Health Administration. A deadly day in which three miners lost their lives in separate accidents across the country prompted the agency's assistant secretary of labor to say that the spike in incidents at metal and non-metal mines will not be ignored.

According to a press release from the MSHA, 29 miners died in 2014, and 15 deaths have been reported so far in 2015. Details about the three most recent deaths were also revealed. At one quarry, an 18-year-old man died beneath tons of sand and stone dust when a silo collapsed. Earlier in the year, this quarry had been cited by MHSA for rocks on a walkway and a truck driver's inability to perform an emergency steering check. The second miner died in an underground gold mine when equipment hit him. Then at a sand and gravel mine, a stockpile fell onto a miner and killed him.

Inspectors have been instructed to focus on education. They will pay particular attention to walking through work areas and discussing hazards with workers. Although preventative best practices will be emphasized, the MSHA made clear that citations for violations could be aggressive, especially if violations could contribute to a fatal accident.

Mining has long been associated with workplace accidents. Workers who are hurt while on the job may want to speak with an attorney to determine their eligibility for benefits under the employer's workers' compensation insurance policy. These benefits can include the provision of medical care as well as a percentage of any wages lost while the victims are recovering from their injuries.

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