HSE to investigate mining tragedy

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HSE to investigate mining tragedy

29th September 2011

The Health and Safety Executive is set to carry out an investigation into a fatal accident in Yorkshire, the latest tragedy to hit the mining industry in the last fortnight.

One man died and another was injured after being trapped by a roof collapse rock fall in Kellingley Colliery, North Yorkshire, on Tuesday. The incident occurred on the eve of the funeral of four workers who lost their lives in the south Wales flooding tragedy only days earlier.

Michael Latner, a workplace accident expert with Fentons Solicitors LLP, said that specialist mine inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive and North Yorkshire Police are now to investigate the incident.

“This is a very difficult time for all of the families and loved ones of everyone concerned,” said Michael, “and it is vital that the investigation finds exactly what led to this terrible situation.”

He said that the number of incidents at the colliery – including the evacuation of more than 200 workers from the mine last year when methane gas seeped into the area and ignited – was a cause for concern.

“Protecting the safety of workers is of paramount importance, and it is only appropriate that a thorough investigation is undertaken to provide answers to those who have lost their loved ones in such a tragic way,” he said.

As well as the 2010 incident, the colliery was the subject of another tragedy in October 2009, when a worker died following an equipment failure.

The UK Coal colliery, near Knottingley, West Yorkshire, is the largest remaining deep mine in Yorkshire, and is nearly 2,700ft underground.

Coal mining has never been a particularly safe occupation as miners must contend with deadly poisonous gases such as hydrogen sulphide as well as explosive gases such as methane. Modern technology and mining techniques have certainly mitigated many of the risks, but coal mining continues to claim thousands of lives each year.

Although there are few accurate figures, a Geneva-based trade unions federation estimates that there are 12,000 fatalities each year worldwide. China, which accounts for 40% of global coal output, is responsible for nearly 80% of the world’s coal mining fatalities with an average of 15 workers dying each day. In 2010, China’s official mining death toll was 2433. 173 mining deaths were recorded in Columbia, 105 in Turkey, over 90 in Russia, 48 in the United States, 29 in New Zealand, 13 in South Africa and two in the UK.

Read more at: Sky, BBC, Telegraph