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Workers' compensation: Safety rules follow Illinois miners

When a fatal workplace accident occurs, new federal safety regulations may be imposed in order to prevent further fatalities or injury. However, one Illinois coal mine has had to decrease production as a result of stricter regulations following the death of a worker in July. While the miners understand that these regulations are necessary to prevent workers' compensation claims, they are also frustrated by their cut in work hours.

The accident occurred as a worker sat next to a dust curtain to eat his lunch. A coal hauling car struck and killed him as it came through the curtain. After the accident, the miners began carrying cell phones and radios so they can communicate and hopefully prevent another tragedy of this nature.

Federal regulations now require the cars to stop before going through the curtains. The miners argue that will disrupt the flow of traffic in the mine, which will hold up production and potentially cause a worse accident. Peabody Energy, the company that operates the mine, is now contesting the new federal regulations in court. While the hearings are in progress, the mine is forced to follow the safety regulations. This has meant a reduction in both coal production and work hours.

The miners are understandably upset about their decrease in pay, but safety is a very important issue in such an inherently dangerous workplace. Hopefully, Peabody Energy and the federal government can come to an agreement on safety measures that can help keep the mine productive while decreasing the risk for accidents. In the future, any Illinois miner who is injured on the job may benefit from legal counsel to ensure that he or she is getting the full amount of workers' compensation benefits available.

Source: wsiltv.com, "Production at Wildcat Hills Mine Has Been Forced to Slow Down," Evie Allen, July 26, 2013

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