California readers might be surprised to learn that mining is actually big business for the state — nonfuel, raw mineral production, to be precise. In fact, California has led the nation in nonfuel mineral production for six consecutive years, accounting for eight percent of the country’s mineral commodities.

Yet mining of all types can be hazardous to workers. Although mining fatality rates in 2012 reached an all-time low, 36 workers nationwide sustained fatal workplace injuries, according to federal Mine Safety and Health Administration officials. Of that number, California had one fatal on-the-job mining incident.

The government calculates fatality rates based on the number of mining deaths per 200,000 hours worked. MHSA officials credit the lower fatality rate to tougher enforcement of safety regulations.

Even if a workplace injury does not prompt a government investigation, when an employee is injured as a result of his or her employment, he or she may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. Workers’ compensation is an insurance system that exists to assist injured workers with medical bills and wage loss benefits until the injured employee can return to work. Employers purchase workers’ compensation insurance to cover employees in the event of a workplace injury.

If you have been injured on the job, an attorney can determine whether you may be entitled to assistance with medical bills and possibly lost wage benefits. Benefits for a work-related injury are typically calculated on an individual basis. In the event of a severe injury, longer-term benefits may also be available. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can answer an injured worker’s questions about this process.

Source:, “U.S. mining fatalities in 2012 near all-time low; Pennsylvania ends year with none,” Feb. 1, 2013