First Kentucky Coal Miner Death for 2019 Reported in Bell County

Rhoads & Rhoads is a law firm with a devoted history protecting the rights of Kentucky coal workers and their families. In 1974, Jerry Rhoads started the law firm in Madisonville with the majority of the practice focusing on representing the United Mine Workers’ of America (UMWA). Because of our commitment to one of Kentucky’s hardest groups of workers, we were saddened to review the Energy and Environment Cabinet report to local news outlets that a 56-year-old a contracted worker for Tennco Energy Inc. was struck by a shuttle car at Toms Fork Mine in Bell County, nearly 600 feet underground. His injuries were ultimately fatal, and he died soon after being transported to Pineville Hospital.

Toms Fork Mine is located in eastern Kentucky and was recently licensed in November of 2018. Although two safety inspections have occurred since then, mining remains a high-risk injury industry and near the top of the list for most dangerous jobs. The threat of being involved in a work accident is almost constant and the chance of being injured by falling objects, equipment, and roof collapses makes traumatic brain traumas all too common. Miners can also face long-term or fatal health problems due to breathing hazardous environmental elements such as COPD, progressive massive fibrosis and the resurgence of Coal Workers’ Pneumoconiosis (CWP), also known as the dreaded Black Lung Disease overtaking central Appalachia. Other common mining accidents and coal worker deaths can be caused by:

  • Methane and Consecutive Coal Dust Explosions;
  • Blasting Related Accidents, including fly-rocks, premature blasts, misfires, and mine-induced seismicity (earthquake-like events that can cause mine collapse); and
  • Heavy machinery-related accidents.

This is the first reported deadly mining accident in Kentucky in 2019, a tragedy that has already mirrored the one workplace miner death case in 2018, just a few weeks into the New Year. In 2017, two Kentucky miners were killed on the job.

Inspections Help but Leave Employers and Workers Responsible 

Federal check-ins and safety inspections occur throughout six Division of Mine Safety (DMS) offices and mine rescue stations throughout the Commonwealth. These inspectors enforce Kentucky laws as specified by KRS 351 – 352 and associated regulations and are meant to be proactive accident prevention measures used to identify hazards. Inspectors can be extra eyes and ears to report on the condition of equipment used and ensure safe working environments are established and enforced, but employers and coal workers are ultimately responsible for following specific procedures and standards.

Western Kentucky Wrongful Death Lawyers – Working for Kentucky Laborers

Rhoads & Rhoads is no stranger to representing Kentucky coal workers who have been injured, disabled, or killed on the job. Our firm planted roots in Madisonville in 1974 with the majority of the practice focused on representing mine workers in injury and black lung claims throughout western Kentucky. While the firm now handles personal injury and wrongful death cases of all types, our experienced attorneys and their staff remain committed to helping Kentucky coal workers.

If you have been seriously injured or lost a loved one in a coal mining workplace accident, we are here to help you. Call us at 888-709-9329 or contact us by e-mail to schedule an appointment.

Read: Investigation Deems Company at Fault in Kentucky Coal Miner’s Death