Working in the mining sector obviously comes with risks, however not all the risks are directly linked to the physical side of the job and its dangers. There are obvious workplace risks of course, but living near the mines can also pose a range of environmental health concerns and hazards in itself. Health hazards in coal mining can be controlled and managed with effective strategies. You can read about these strategies in Australasian Mine Safety Journal.
Whether it underground or surface mining there are risks, and in recent times it has been a widely publicised subject, and every year we have more and more information available to us through research and testing.
So what are the main risks associated with coal mining, and how does it affect you (or your family).
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The occupational hazards of mining
Miners face a range of dangers working in coal mines. It’s never truly been a safe or healthy environment, and the threat of injury from falling objects, faulty equipment, or roof collapses are as prevalent as they have always been. Even though workplace health and safety has improved immensely in the last 20-30 years, risk is still high compared to other jobs.
Physical threats are not the only concerns for coal miners, the risk of respiratory damage from the high levels of chemical particles and dust associated with deep coal mining includes well-known issues like black lung (coal worker’s pneumoconiosis) and progressive massive fibrosis (PMF). Hearing issues are also very common in miners due to the excessive noise levels associated with machinery.
Underground coal mining health risks
Increased rates of respiratory disease, lung cancer, and low birth weight can all be associated and linked to townships that are situated close to mines. COPD and hypertension are directly linked to coal that is extracted from mines and lead poisoning from water sources are also known to be a proven issue in more recent times.
Surface Mining Health Risks
Communities close to surface mine sites are affected by the dust created through the use of explosives, causing a range of respiratory issues amongst locals. Explosives used in mining are often chemical based and have been linked to the poisoning of drinking water caused by mine drainage, heavy metals, and coal seam gas. Explosions have often caused structural damage and deaths.
If you are considering a new role in coal mining, it’s good to know the risks associated with the job. There are ways to protect yourself against hazards, and it begins with common sense. You can find out more information on AMSJ.
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