Mining is one of the biggest industries in northern Minnesota. It’s also one of the most dangerous. In February of this year, a conveyor system collapsed on a pile of taconite pellets at the Mountain Iron mine. According to reports, the structural failure was a known risk before the accident because it was the second conveyor issue to occur that week.
Fortunately, no one was injured in the incident. But, it could have seriously injured or killed miners, if they had been on site at the time.
What protections do miners have?
All employees have rights to workers’ compensation in the event of an on-the-job accident. However, miners are union employees, which makes the process of obtaining these benefits a bit unique. When seeking workers’ comp as a union member, there will be special considerations to take into account. These may include:
- Collective bargaining agreements
- Group or individual long-term disability policies
- Other special arrangements that outline the employer responsibilities in the event of an accident
This is why having representation from a workers’ compensation attorney who is experienced at handling these unique issues can be especially valuable.
What’s it going to take before mine owners take better care of worker safety?
When accidents occur in a mine, they are often life altering or even deadly. In 1924, 41 miners lost their lives in the mine shaft collapse in Cuyuna Range – the worst mining disaster in Minnesota history. Since that time, mining safety has remained an issue.
In order to get better workplace protections, miners need to stand up for their rights. One way to do this is by holding their employer accountable when things go wrong by filing a workers’ compensation claim. Claiming workers’ comp may not be a popular decision among some unions. However, it’s an important step to ensure that mine owners prioritize the best interests of their employees.