Last December, the Indiana Department of Labor published it yearly report on non-fatal injury and illness statistics for the State of Indiana. It was good news for Hoosiers: in 2013, the numbers were at record lows for people working on the job who got hurt or became ill from hazards at work. How low? According to the Indiana DOL report, 3.8% of 100 workers suffered from occupational injury or illness in that calendar year.
Now, this was data compiled for full-time workers only and it covered 2013. And it was average — all the different types of jobs were tallied together, so jobs with high risk of injury (think construction) were in the same pot with those with much lower dangers (think librarians).
So, How Safe Are Hoosiers At Work Today? Depends Upon the Job.
Different jobs require different gifts and talents, and different kinds of work come with different kinds of risk. Workers in local mines or mills are at high risk of injury. So are people who are working in the construction trades. Dangers of life-altering injuries or wrongful death come with the job and accidents or injuries that include:
- Falls (ladders, scaffolding, beams, etc.)
- Breathing in materials, chemicals, or heat (respiratory harm)
- Electrical burns
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Machine accidents (amputation, loss of limb)
- Burns from explosions
- Death from explosions.
Miners in Indiana Saw 23% Jump in Injuries and Illnesses in 2013
According to the IDOL report, some industries in Indiana actually saw an INCREASE in the number of workers who were hurt or became ill from occupational hazards on the job. These included the following major Indiana industries:
finance and insurance; and
real estate and rental leasing.
Of particular concern is the mining industry in Indiana. Miners in Indiana, take note. From the report:
The mining industry saw a 23.08% increase in the number of nonfatal injuries and illnesses—from a rate of 2.6 in 2012 to 3.2 in 2013. Mining companies with 50-249 employees had a rate of 2.0, which was the lowest in the industry. Companies with 250-999 employees had the highest rate with 4.2 injuries per 100 full-time workers.
According to the Mining Safety and Health Administration, there were 20 deaths from fatal injuries in mines in the year 2013. For details on what happened in these fatal accidents, you can read the individual reports at the MSHA website.
Coal is Big Business in Indiana
Everyone in our part of the country recognizes the importants of mines — particularly coal mines — here in Indiana and Illinois. For how important coal is to Indiana, and therefore how vital mines and miners are to Hoosiers, read the recent op-ed in the Times by Andrea Neal, “King coal is Hoosier state’s most valuable resource.”
In Indiana Governor Mike Pence’s annual 2014 Coal Report, there has been a 500% increase in the amount of coal mined out of underground Indiana mines in the past 16 years; most of this coal is coming out of Gibson and Knox counties which each have three active coal mines employing Indiana coal miners. (Indiana miners are also employed at coal mines in Green County, Pike County and Sullivan County.)
In the single year of 2014, Indiana miners were responsible for bring up 18,168,192.58 tons of coal out of Indiana coal mines. That’s a lot of coal. That’s a lot of work. That’s a lot of opportunity for people to get hurt or fall sick.
Miners here in Indiana need to be kept safe from harm in a very hazardous line of work. Both federal and state laws are on the books to protect miners, and there are also laws in place to help victims of accident and illness from working on the job in Indiana mines.
However, as the fever for coal keeps increasing, the danger to miners increases as well. Miners and their families need to be aware of the dangers that are present as well as what is being done (or not done) to keep miners safe from harm.