As someone who works in the mining industry, no one needs to tell you that it is difficult and dangerous work. But it is helpful to always be aware of the hazards and risks you face at your job. In 2017, there were more than 4,000 nonfatal mining injuries.

Reducing your likelihood of suffering an occupational injury starts with awareness and prevention. Here is an overview of the most prevalent hazards in the mining industry.

Methane and coal dust explosions

Methane is an explosive gas found within coal layers. Mechanical errors, faulty equipment and improperly used explosives can set off explosions. Explosions can trap, burn and kill underground miners.

Blasting accidents

Blasting rocks with explosives is a necessary mining task, but it can cause dangerous situations even with the proper use of explosives. One common hazard that this creates is a fly-rock. This refers to a worker getting hit by a rock either because if flies farther than expected or the worker is too close to the explosion. Another hazard is a premature blast. Detonating an explosive earlier than necessary is often due to faulty fuses and degenerative explosives. Lastly, the blasting charge can fail and result in a misfire.

Respiratory problems

As a miner, you face regular exposure to dust. This puts you at a high risk of developing lung diseases. Air contaminants can lead to black lung.

Overexertion

Working in the mining industry is often strenuous and debilitating. Overworking in awkward positions can lead to soft tissue injuries in your muscles, tendons, nerves, joints, ligaments, cartilage and spinal discs. Common tasks that lead to injuries include excessive lifting, pushing, pulling, lowering, pulling and stretching. Vibrations, extreme temperatures and awkward postures can also contribute to overexertion injuries. This can result in tendinitis and chronic pain.

With such a high risk of getting an occupational injury, you should be ready to pursue workers’ compensation if you sustain an injury.