Those who work in dangerous conditions are generally well rewarded. But coal miners, who face a variety of hazards daily, may not get the care and compensation they deserve when they become injured or are diagnosed with a work-related illness.
As a coal miner, The 1977 Mine Act (as amended by the 2006 MINER Act) and other state and federal laws afford you a variety of rights to keep you safe in the workplace, provide you with the compensation you need and deserve if you’ve been harmed, and protect your position under certain circumstances.
Your Rights Concerning Mine Inspections
You have the right to request that the U.S. Mining Health and Safety Administration (MHSA) inspect your mine if you believe that there is imminent danger, a hazardous condition, or a violation of the Mine Act.
You can call the MHSA’s hotline at 1-800-746-1533 or use the agency’s online complaint system. You or your representative also have the right to participate in inspections and receive a copy of any mine inspection reports or orders issued.
Your Health and Safety Protection Rights
If you are a miner that has been hurt on the job or exposed to chemical hazards, you have the right information about hazards in your workplace. Employers must furnish first aid and appropriate medical treatment after an injury or the diagnosis of a work-related illness.
Black lung is one of the most serious occupational illnesses related to mining. If you are a coal miner, your employer must provide you with periodic health examinations that include symptom assessment, chest x-rays, spirometry, and your occupational history.
Your Rights Related to Standards and Regulations
As a miner, you have a right to the most recent information related to updated or changed standards and regulations in your industry. The Mine Act requires that MSHA publish all proposed regulations or health and safety standards. You can also comment or petition to challenge a new standard within 60 days of its publish date.
Your Rights Concerning Records, Maps, and Emergency Planning
The safety of miners often depends on the quality of the information they are provided about their environment. The Mine Act gives you the right to inspect the maps of any underground mines in which you work as well as records related to ventilation and roof control plans. You also have the right to access and review your company’s mine emergency response plan, which MSHA reviews twice annually.
Your Transfer Rights if Diagnosed with Black Lung Disease
If any medical examination or x-ray is positive for black lung disease, the MSHA provides that you may have transfer rights. Specifically, your employer may be required to provide you with work that has less exposure to dust at the same rate of pay as your prior position.
Your Right to Health and Safety Training
You have the right to health and safety training if you engage in mining operations or work in a mine. It doesn’t matter whether you are an employee of the mining company or an independent contractor.
If you work in a mine and believe that you don’t have the required health and safety training, you can withdraw yourself from duty.
Your Right to Avoid Employer Retaliation
If you are a miner, an applicant for employment, or a representative of miners, you have the right to be protected against discrimination when you exercise your rights under the Mine Act. If you exercise any of your rights under good faith, some of the discriminatory and retaliatory conduct that employers may not exhibit include:
- Firing you
- Demoting you
- Reducing your hours, pay, bonuses, or vacation time
- Threatening you
- Transferring you to a less desirable position
- Interfering with the exercise of your lawful rights
If any of these things have happened to you, you have just 60 days to file a discrimination complaint in most cases.
Your Right to Full and Fair Compensation
If you have been injured or become ill in the course of your employment as a miner, you have many rights. You should be treated fairly by getting access to quality medical care, wage replacement, and other benefits that will allow you to continue meeting your obligations as you focus on your recovery. A qualified mine accident lawyer can help protect your rights and ensure you are getting the maximum compensation available.
Protecting Coal Miners’ Rights and Fighting for Justice
Thousands of people continue to work in the coal mines that support this nation’s infrastructure. Unfortunately, many of the companies that employ them still don’t respect their rights and take care of them when an injury or illness occurs.
If you or someone you love has been hurt in a coal mining accident, been diagnosed with an occupational illness, or been the victim of retaliation, contact Bailey Javins & Carter at (304) 932-4639 or reach out to us online. Our dedicated and experienced mine accident attorneys will review your situation, outline your options, and fight aggressively to safeguard your right to full and fair compensation.