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Worker deaths in mining industry at lowest level on record

Mineworkers in Louisiana perform extremely hazardous duties, and the dangers of this type of work prompted the federal government to set up the Mine Safety and Health Administration in 1978. The number of workers who have lost their lives due to an accident in the mining sector has been gradually falling since then, and the agency has reported that the lowest death toll on record was in 2015 with 28 fatalities. Some industry observers say that reduced demand for coal played a part in lowering accident and death rates, but the MSHA point to increased inspections of mines with poor safety records as being chiefly responsible.

Mining accidents often result in high numbers of injuries and fatalities, and the MSHA began to increase special inspections for mines with poor safety records after 29 miners were killed in a West Virginia coal dust explosion in April 2010. The ensuing investigation revealed that the facility concerned had been accused of breaching safety regulations, and the CEO of the energy company that operated the mine subsequently faced criminal charges.

The executive was convicted in December 2015 of being involved in a conspiracy to violate safety regulations. He faces up to a year in prison.

Generally, workers in Louisiana who are injured while on the job or who develop work-related illnesses may not legally bring lawsuits against their employers because of the financial benefits available under the state's workers' compensation program. However, workers may sue when the negligent actions of their employers amount to willful intent to cause harm to workers. Attorneys with experience in this area may be able to assess the circumstances surrounding workplace accidents and advise injured workers regarding their legal options.

Source: Public Broadcasting Service, Former CEO indicted for 2010 mine explosion, Justin Scuiletti, Nov. 13, 2014

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