Mining Accidents and Mining Deaths

Mining Death Due to Defective Machine and Poor Training

Beasley Allen on-the-job attorney Kendall Dunson investigates a mining accident that killed a young, inexperienced miner and discovers several parties are to blame.

The mining death involved a 24-year-old man who had only three days of mining experience under his belt when he was sent underground to assist a more seasoned miner with preparing the ceiling for blasting. Due to the mining company’s failure to train and protect its employees, and defectively designed industrial equipment, it would be his last day at work.

What happened?

The miners were using a truck outfitted with a boom lift and personnel basket. While maneuvering the basket to place nitrate fuel into drill holes in the ceiling, the machine malfunctioned and moved uncontrollably toward the ceiling. The workers ducked into the basket just before it crashed into the ceiling. The young, inexperienced miner became pinned between the front and rear railing. The more experienced worker was at the bottom of the basket and managed to avoid the crushing force.

The hydraulic pump motor continued to operate, trapping both men for approximately an hour. By the time other workers noticed them and lowered them to the ground, it was too late. The young miner was dead due to positional asphyxia.

Mining – A Dangerous Industry

Whether underground or surface mining, miners must deal with working in hazardous conditions. Collapsing structures, falling debris, elevated heights, extended depths and heavy machinery are all dangers of the job. Regulation of the industry is heavy because mining is so dangerous.

While the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is dedicated to workplaces spanning a vastly wide range, the mining industry is specifically regulated by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). MSHA works to reduce mining deaths, injuries and illnesses through vigorous enforcement, education, training and technical support to the mining industry.

MSHA investigated the mining death and three months later, on Oct. 28, 2020, issued its final report. The administration found the owner/operator was clearly at fault in the following ways:

  • Allowing an untrained miner to work underground
  • Failing to properly train miners after modifying equipment
  • Failing to ensure all safety devices were functioning on relevant machinery

“While it is clear the mine operator/employer’s conduct contributed to the incident and death of the young miner, Georgia’s worker’s compensation laws preclude a lawsuit against employers,” said Beasley Allen industrial accident lawyer Kendall Dunson, who was hired by the deceased worker’s family to investigate the accident, along with The Cooper Firm. But the circumstances also implicate the designer and manufacturer of the equipment the workers were using.

“I am relatively confident the truck was defective and unreasonably dangerous,” Dunson added. “Had the truck been properly designed and manufactured, the basket would not have crushed and killed our victim.” Dunson has ordered an analysis to determine the design flaws in the machinery that contributed to this tragic mining accident.

Industrial Accident Lawyer

Nearly 3 million U.S. workers suffer injuries on the job every year, not including government employees. An additional 5,300 workers leave for work each year, tragically never to return to their home and family. These staggering figures are unacceptable. They demonstrate how far we have to go in creating safer work environments for everyone.

At Beasley Allen, our industrial accident lawyers believe in holding employers accountable. Any safety oversight or violation that results in a worker’s debilitating on-the-job injury or death deserves swift justice. The manufacturers of industrial machines and equipment are also often to blame for worker injuries and fatalities due to a product defect. By holding employers and manufacturers accountable for safety failures, we help make our workplaces safer for everyone.

Our nationally recognized on-the-job injury attorneys have successfully litigated thousands of work-related injury and death claims, including product liability cases. If you or a family member have been injured on the job, call us to discuss your case. We have the resources to represent clients across the country while never losing sight of the individual.

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