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State Stops to Remember those Lost in Brookwood, Alabama Mining Accident

Oct 11, 2011 - Workers' Compensation/Work Injury by

Just a decade ago, more than a dozen coal miners were killed because of multiple explosions that happened during the Jim Walter Resources coal mine accident in Brookwood, Alabama.

The disaster is the most catastrophic mining accident that happened in the U.S. in the last 20 years. The explosions were caused by methane gas, which is a common danger underground, according to NPR. One miner was trapped alone after the first explosion. A dozen rescuers were killed in a second explosion.
Our Tuscaloosa workers compensation attorneys understand how dangerous mining work can be. Mine owners have an obligation to keep work sites safe for employees. The properties have to be secure for all others who may visit, regardless of whether they’re entering the mine or not.

After the accident was examined, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) hit the mining company with nearly $450,000 in fines. These fines were later reduced to $5,000.

“It’s worth remembering that the Bush administration’s response to Brookwood was to proceed to dismantle the regulatory safety net intended to protect our nation’s coal miners,” said Ken Ward in the Charleston Gazette

The late Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), commented an all too familiar pattern following mining accidents. He said first comes the disaster, then comes the mourning and then comes the public outrage. Lastly, he said that when all the cameras and the publicity is gone, the miners are tossed right back into the dangerous and uncorrected work sites.

To help to change this pattern and to recognize those who we have lost in the mining industry, leaders and residents recently gathered for the “Alabama Coal Miners in Remembrance of Fallen Miners” ceremony that was held at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater. Visitors sang songs, held candles and released doves throughout the spiritual ceremony to remember these 13 miners lost just 10 years ago. Siran Stacy, former Crimson Tide football star, and Cecil Roberts, the President of United Mine Workers of America, spoke at the ceremony.

According to SciVerse, there were more than 31,000,000 workdays lost because of injuries resulting from mining work in the U.S. from 1983 to 2004.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were nearly 50 mining-related work fatalities in 2006 in the U.S. This was up nearly 25 deaths from the average of 2003 to 2005.

Mining accidents that killed more than one worker at a time accounted for the fatalities of more than 20 of these workers. More than 30 of these fatalities were in bituminous coal underground mining. It’s no surprise that fire and explosions were the most common cause of fatal accidents during the year. They took the lives of more than 15 workers. The second leading cause for mining deaths was contact with objects which took about 10 lives, followed by about 5 transportation incidents. There have been nearly 40 work-related accidents among miners in Alabama since 2000.

Additional Resources:

10 Years Later, Remembering One Of The Nation’s Worst Mine Disasters, by Howard Berkes, NPR

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