Mining machine operator

miner operating machine
  • Deaths per 100,000 workers: 26.9
  • Median wage: $49,870

Many mining jobs are done in cramped, underground shafts where cave-ins can trap and injure workers.

The biggest danger miners face, though, is from explosions. In coal mines, methane gases accumulate in coal seams, leak into open spaces and ignite. Coal dust can also explode.

In confined areas like mines, the energy from explosions blasts through the paths of least resistance -- the open areas where the miners work.

Over the years, as most coal production has switched to surface mining, underground fatalities have dropped. But even strip mining is dangerous. Workers often get badly hurt by being struck or crushed by heavy machines like giant shovels and bulldozers.

First published September 11, 2014: 1:03 PM ET
Source: Injury and wage data from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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