Oklahoma miners and their family members are likely aware of just how dangerous the industry can be. For example, it was not uncommon for there to be several hundred fatalities every single year in the 1970s. Thanks to the work of the Mine Safety and Health Administration, however, mines have become safer and the number of fatalities have been reduced.
The MSHA began operation following the implementation of the Mine Act of 1977. The goal of the administration was to prevent illnesses, injuries and deaths for those working in the mining industry while making the workplace healthier for all involved. The MSHA is responsible for inspecting every mine to ensure that it is following proper protocols under the act.
In the year that the Mine Act went into effect, more than 300 miners died in mining accidents. To reduce the number of fatalities, the MSHA set out to influence better outcomes through improved communication and education. One area it focused on was black lung disease, which had killed an estimated 76,000 miners by 1968. In 2016, the number of deaths fell to just 12, the lowest it has been in the entire history of the mining industry.
A miner who suffers a workplace accident or illness and cannot work as a result may be entitled to receive workers' compensation benefits to cover the cost of medical bills and a portion of the wages that were lost. If the injury occurred due to an egregious workplace safety violation, an attorney might instead suggest the filing of a lawsuit against the responsible parties in lieu of applying for benefits.