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Modern underground mines have rigorous safety rules and precautions and mining companies require a great deal of on-the-job safety training. In addition, the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969 directed the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to study the causes of coal-related diseases and to develop a program to prevent the heath problems of coal workers. Mining requires workers to spend long hours underground in hazardous and often unstable conditions. Miners use a variety of safety equipment to stay safe on the job daily. These pieces of equipment can save the lives of those who choose to enter this particularly dangerous line of work.
Mines are completely dark unless workers are near the entrance or provide the light themselves.
Miners often have their own personal lights attached to their hard hats, even if the work site has lights set up. The workers may need to make their way through dark areas to transition from one spot to another, or the light system's power could fail. A miner's hard hat can be fitted with a small battery pack and a lamp that hooks to the front.
Inhalation hazards are among the most significant dangers for workers in mines. Gases can cause nausea or may even be toxic. Dust particles in the air can cause respiratory complications and more.
Minors often use respirators to reduce inhalation levels and work comfortably in the mine. The style of respirator varies based on the dangers associated with a particular mine. Many respirators are simple face masks with an odor filter and protection from airborne contaminants. Some are powered and provide a flow of fresh oxygen to the miner.
The days of taking a canary into the coal mine as a warning system of poisonous gases are long gone. Gas detection sensors are now placed in mines to monitor the levels of methane, carbon monoxide, oxygen, nitrogen dioxide and other gasses to ensure that the workers are not in danger of inhaling a toxic gas or running out of oxygen.
Mining involves digging, scraping and pounding hard materials such as limestone and other rocks. To make the job more efficient and safe the industry now uses pneumatic tools instead of hammers and picks. While these older tools are still used, the heavy lifting is done by air-powered equipment.
Portable air systems are much lighter and more mobile than older air compressors and canisters. They can be rolled along or worn by a worker. The hose attaches to the pneumatic tool of choice.
Employees who have worked for in mines for extended periods of time have a greater chance of developing a mining- related illness. These illnesses are caused by exposure to mining chemicals and the physical hazards which are associated with mining. Mining related illnesses include respiratory disease, lung cancer, hearing loss and musculoskeletal disorders.
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