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Preventing workplace accidents by implementing new technology

Most West Virginia residents know how dangerous the mining industry can be, as it has one of the highest percentages of workplace accidents, injuries and deaths. Tragically, many of the workplace accidents that do occur are related to the "human element, " meaning that a large number could have been prevented. There is hope that by implementing new technology and strategies, miners may be able to enjoy an improved safety standard at work.

While the state of West Virginia has not seen a large-scale mining tragedy (an accident that claims many lives) recently, a horrible mining accident in another country serves as a sober reminder that there is still room for improvement in mining safety. This particular accident, an explosion and fire, claimed the lives of 301 miners. However, the president of an electronics company claims that the technology already exists needed to improve the safety in mines. This includes technology to track air flow, improve communication while in the mine and cameras to avoid collision between large equipment.

There are those who support the implementation of better technology, while others say that it would actually serve as a distraction or danger if it does not work properly. Obviously, there is a balance between using state-of-the-art technology and well-trained mine workers. It is up to employers to provide the safest work environment as possible, hopefully avoiding serious accidents like the one in Turkey. It is important to remember that American mines are not immune to such rare but incredibly tragic incidents.

In the mining industry, workplace accidents include incidents such as exposure to toxic gases, possible explosions, mine collapse and injury from equipment. Because of the risks associated with mining, it is imperative that all miners be properly trained and equipped with appropriate equipment. If improving technology can prevent unnecessary accidents, mining companies should consider how to implement these new strategies. Those who have been injured while working may qualify for workers' compensation benefits or, in some cases, be able to file a personal injury or wrongful death suit against a third party.

Source: Voice of America, "Can Technology Boost Mine Safety?", Aida Akl, June 6, 2014

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