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Mining Accidents: Leaking Gases

November 17th, 2013


Mining accidents are generated from various causes, which include leaks of poisonous gases or explosive natural gases such as methane.

The leaking of poisonous gas is a risk to workers in the mine, however leaking gases are also extremely dangerous since they are potential fuel for fire and a source of ignition. Potentially, these leaking gases can build up and eventually be the cause of an explosion.

UK Pit Explosion

In October this year, a former UK coal mining company was sentenced for safety failings that resulted in a pit explosion. The Health and Safety Executive learnt that the explosion, which happened in November 2010, had occurred due to the buildup of flammable gases and potential ignition sources. The gas was able to leak through to an area where the miners were working due to an inadequately maintained safety curtain. More than 200 miners were evacuated from the Kellingley Colliery. Fortunately no fatalities occurred at the colliery; which is one of the last remaining deep mines in Yorkshire.

Use of Canaries

Before modern technology, the method for detecting poisonous gases in coal mines was by using canaries. In the 19th century coal miners would use the songbirds to detect the presence of gases such as methane, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. The canary would stop singing and die if these poisonous gases were present, signalling the miners to vacate immediately.

Guidelines that have been put into prevent further accidents at work

Modern health and safety guidelines which have been put in place to stop gas leaks and further accidents at work include the Mine and Quarries Act 1954, which includes provisions that are relevant to fires and explosions in mines, and the 1974 Health and Safety Act.

Furthermore, the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 includes framework in which the duty falls on employers and includes requirements for them to carry out assessments of risk from dangerous substances – which, where they are present, will include flammable gases and flammable dust.

Have you suffered from a work related injury or would like some more information about compensation after an industrial injury? If so, call the Accident Advice Helpline today. Our helpline is answered 24/7 and available to provide confidential advice about personal injury compensation.


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