words Al Woods
While it is true that literally every occupation comes with a certain level of risks and hazards, coal mine workers are exposed to some of the most dangerous occupational hazards.
It involves descending deep into the earth’s crust to extract what is commonly known as the black gold. They face a wide range of risks, from mines collapsing to fires and catching diseases like black lung disease. This is why just like most other occupations, the rights of coal mine workers are protected by occupational safety and health laws. But as anyone would expect, the risks of working in a coal mine are of a higher magnitude than in most high-risk occupations. With this having been said, here are some rights coal workers should know they have.
Complaints On Health & Safety Hazards
This is a right generally for employees working under any condition. As a coal worker, you are supposed to ensure that your working environment is conducive. For instance, you will need to ensure that the machines and equipment are of the required standard to guarantee your safety. Quality safety gear and equipment should also be provided. As a miner, you have the right to complain if you foresee certain dangers or threats to safety and health. The matter should be reported to your mine operator, agent, or representative as soon as possible.
Right To Medical Benefits
When injured or fall ill working in a coal mine, you deserve to be compensated for your pain and suffering. As for the latter, cases of black lung disease, also known as pneumoconiosis are relatively high amongst people who work for many years as coal miners. If you become a victim of black lung disease after working in a coal mine for long, a workers’ compensation attorney can help you receive fair compensation. Pneumoconiosis or CWP benefits are one of the rights coal workers should know about. With a good legal team representing your case, you won’t have to deal with the hurdles and obstacles often involved in pursuing such benefits.
A Right To Medical Evaluation
Our source of daily bread should not be the highway to an early grave. Instead, it should secure a bright future for you and your loved ones. However, that may not always be the case for coal workers. Their job exposes them to many risks that need to be dealt with before bad comes to worse. In mining, toxic substances and harmful agents are the order of the day. Therefore, a coal worker is entitled to a physical examination and chest x-ray to ensure that they are fit and healthy for the job. Any signs and symptoms of any respiratory issue should be attended to with immediate effect.
Health and Safety Training
Like any other profession, coal mining requires you to handle the pieces of equipment with expertise. This is a right that many may ignore since they are looking to bring something on the table. But the risks involved in working in a coal mine are fatal and, in some scenarios, death. If you have not acquired the health and safety training for proper handling and conduct at work, please acquire the skills. After all, confidence is ignorance, and knowledge is power.
Participate In Proceedings
Once you have filed a case against your workplace to a state agency, you have the right to be part of the case! You have the right to participate and know what is transpiring about the case. Luckily, the health review commission and the Federal Mine Safety gives you the chance to participate, testify, and assist in any proceedings and testimonials when necessary. Some coal workers are afraid of practicing this because they may end up losing their jobs but remember, take five and stay alive.
Refuse To Work In An Unsafe Environment
Sometimes, workers suffer silently in harsh conditions, but they have no one to turn to. Sometimes, knowing your rights and the body that governs your work is crucial. There are instances where miners are forced to work under unbearable circumstances. It is important to first complain to your mine operator before taking things the legal way. If you address an issue, give them time to attend to it, and if the issue is not sorted, you can refuse to work. It is your right not to work in an unsafe “office.”
Well, in a nutshell, there are laws governing coal workers. They are there to protect your rights and ensure your occupational safety. Perhaps the most important provision of these laws is that mine owners must have mine rescue stations near each colliery. Along with this, comes fully equipped and adequately trained staff that will attend to any emergency cases on-site. With the few pointers above, you now know your rights as a coal worker and how to protect them.