153 Chinese Miners Trapped by Flood

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According to news reports, rescuers are still trying to save 153 workers trapped after a flood swept through a coal mine in Northern China. The State Administration of Work Safety said that 261 workers were in the mine when it flooded; 108 were lifted to safety.

Pipes and pumping equipment are now on site and water is being pumped out of the mine. But violence briefly erupted when families of the trapped workers and co-workers learned that warning signs of the flood had been ignored. So far there have been no signs of life from or communication with the trapped miners. Officials haven’t declared the cause of the incident yet, but experts said it was likely that miners broke into the old shafts or pits of derelict mines that had filled with water.

Safety & Chinese Mines

Safety is always an issue in mining and nowhere more so than in China. Last year, 2,631 miners died—an average of seven miners every day. Still, that was an improvement from the 6,995 deaths in 2002.

If the trapped miners aren’t rescued, this incident could go down as one of China’s worst. The worst to date:

  • In August 2007, 172 miners died in a coal mine flood
  • In February 2005, a mine blast killed 214 miners.

Regulation of Canadian Mines

Workplace health and safety laws are designed to protect workers from injuries and illnesses. So it stands to reason that the most dangerous industries should be covered by these laws. After all, workers in these industries are most at risk of getting hurt or sick on the job. And, in fact, the most hazardous industries—including mining—are heavily regulated in terms of workplace safety.

Click here for more on exactly how Canadian OHS laws regulate the hazards in the mining industry.