A segment of power generation in New York depends on coal. Mining coal and other minerals represents one of the most dangerous job categories in the United States, but the newest data from the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration brought good news. Work-related accidents in mines killed 28 workers in 2015, which is the lowest figure ever recorded by MSHA since its inception.

In 2014, the agency reported that 45 workers perished in mine accidents. Regulators attribute a portion of the improvement to their continued vigilance. The MSHA chief said that the agency stepped up inspections at mines identified as having significant problems with worker safety. The agency also enhanced its training and outreach activities across the mining industry.

Regulators acknowledged the role that mine closures played in reducing the workplace accident and fatality figures. Increasing numbers of power plants have switched to natural gas, which has caused numerous closures of coal mines. The MSHA does not oversee safety for workers in oil and gas production; that task is handled by OSHA.

Federal and state regulators prepare the safety guidelines meant to reduce the incidence of workplace accidents. When a worker is injured on the job, workers’ compensation benefits may be available to cover medical care and sometimes income lost during recovery. A person who needs these benefits might wish to consult a lawyer first because collecting workers’ compensation removes a person’s right to sue the employer. An attorney might examine the accident evidence to see which course might be the best choice for the injured worker. Additionally, a non-employer third party, like a contractor or machine manufacturer, might have been the cause of an accident and, in some cases, a separate lawsuit against that party could proceed.