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Rise in coal mining deaths in 2017

Ohio has a strong coal mining industry. Workers in that field might not know that in 2017, coal mining deaths nearly doubled around the country compared to the previous year. In 2016, there were eight deaths. That went up to 15 last year. West Virginia had the highest number of deaths with eight. There were two in Kentucky, and the states of Alabama, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and Pennsylvania had one each. Hauling vehicles were most frequently involved in these deaths followed by machinery. At a West Virginia mine in 2010, 29 workers died after an explosion, but none of the 2017 deaths were attributable to such an accident.

In 2011, 2012 and 2013, there were 20 deaths each year in coal mining accidents, and there were fewer than 20 deaths in the years that followed. There were more than 200 deaths in 1966. The drop in fatalities is attributed to both better enforcing of safety regulations and fewer jobs in mining.

In December, the Trump administration announced that it would be reviewing regulations on exposure to coal and rock dust for miners, which causes black lung disease, and cancer-causing diesel exhaust. The Obama administration lowered the allowable exposure levels.

Miners who are injured at work or who become ill because of exposure to hazardous materials on the job might be eligible for workers' compensation. The benefits can be important in helping workers and their families meet medical and other expenses. An attorney can describe how the system works and assist in the preparation and filing of the required claim documentation.

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