Coal mining is among the most dangerous jobs in the United States. Hundreds of workers are injured every year, with some injuries even resulting in death. The risks of coal mining are so high that miners are required to wear breathing devices at all times in case of an emergency. While cave-ins and explosions are the most obvious causes of injury to coal miners, these workers are also exposed to other risks, like harmful gases and dust particles that cause serious illnesses. Almost all miners face at least one illness or accident in the course of their career.
Most Common Injuries and Illnesses in the Augusta, Georgia Coal Mining Industry
Coal mining can cause various injuries and illnesses. Following are the most commonly seen injuries and illnesses in the Augusta, Georgia coal mining industry
- Black lung disease: Coal workers’ pneumoconiosis (CWP), also known as the black lung disease, is caused by exposure to coal dust for long periods of time. The black lung disease is similar to the long term effects of smoking tobacco, and makes the lungs look black, instead of pink, inspiring the common name.
- Musculoskeletal disorders: A musculoskeletal disorder is any injury or disorder affecting the muscles, bones, blood vessels, or nerves. Such disorders arise from undertaking too many physical and manual tasks, which is common in the coal industry.
- Whole body vibration injuries: Whole body vibration is the transfer of vibrations, jolts, or shocks from large machinery, to the human body. There are several injuries that can be caused by whole body vibration, such as musculoskeletal problems, vision impairment, joint diseases, or severe back and neck injuries.
These are only a few of the most commonly seen injuries and illnesses in the Augusta, Georgia coal mining industry. Apart from these, there is a whole range of serious injuries and illnesses that coal miners can face, including thermal stress, chemical hazards, falling rocks, explosions, and much more. There are many ways to prevent and minimize such injuries, but due to the nature of the work, not all injuries and illnesses can be avoided in this industry.
Augusta, Georgia Coal Miners Are Covered by Workers’ Compensation Insurance
The chances of being injured on the job or developing an occupational disease for coal miners is extremely high. Augusta, Georgia workers’ compensation benefits cover coal mining injuries. If you have been injured on the job, then you are entitles to receive workers’ compensation for any medical care, whether it is short term or long term. All expenses, including transportation fees to the medical care facility, prescriptions, and medical devices will be covered.
Further, workers’ compensation also provides wage benefits for any lost wages while you are out of work due to work related injuries or illnesses. Income benefits do not completely cover your pre-injury income, but they can be extremely helpful if you are unable to work. Workers’ compensation wage benefits are based on 2/3 of your average weekly wage.
Workers’ compensation also covers any wages that are lost due to disability. There are four types of disability benefits: temporary total disability, temporary partial disability, permanent partial disability and permanent total disability. Temporary total disability benefits are awarded if your injury completely prevents you from working for a short period of time. The TTD benefits that you receive will be 2/3 of your average weekly wage, for a maximum of 400 weeks, unless it is a catastrophic injury, in which case the time period will be extended.
Temporary partial disability benefits are awarded if your injury hinders your capacity to work, but does not completely prevent it. This means that if your injury does not allow you to earn the income that you received before the injury, and you are entitled to 2/3 of the difference between your current wages and your average weekly wage before the injury. You are eligible for these benefits for up to 350 weeks after your injury.
Permanent partial disability benefits are awarded if your injury results in a permanent disability of one body part, in which case you might still be able to work, but never at your pre-injury capacity. PPD benefits are based on a formula that calculates the percentage of disability, the disabled part of your body, and your compensation rate. Permanent partial disability benefits do not begin until you stop receiving TTD or TPD benefits.
Permanent total disability benefits are the benefits that you will receive if your injury results in total disability, preventing you from doing any kind of work. PTD benefits are only awarded in special circumstances. Workers’ compensation also provides death benefits to any dependent surviving family members of deceased coal miners, like a spouse, sibling, parent, or child.
Workers’ Compensation Can Be a Complicated System
Coal mining injuries and illnesses can be catastrophic, devastating, and extremely painful, but receiving compensation for these injuries is not always an easy task. Often, the employer may claim that the illness did not stem from coal mining, making you ineligible for workers’ compensation benefits. However, if you provide evidences of the injury or illness being work related, then your workers’ compensation claim cannot be denied. For example, if you are a coal miner who also smokes cigarettes, and you develop a serious respiratory condition, your employer may claim that it was the smoking that led to the condition and not the coal mining. In such cases, you will have to seek expert medical testimony and submit several medical scans and tests showing that the illness was actually work related.
The workers’ compensation system in Augusta, Georgia is complex. Thus, hiring an attorney who will guide you and your family through the process is the smartest thing to do. Contact the determined Augusta, GA workers’ compensation lawyers at Ted A. Greve & Associates to learn more about what you can do to make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible, and what you need to do if it is necessary to appeal a workers’ compensation decision or request a hearing.