Workers in Arizona may have serious concerns about fire safety, especially if they work in the mining industry. Underground tunnels can be particularly dangerous places for workplace fires because toxic gases and flammable heavy equipment may be involved. Ventilation systems underground may be limited, and there may be few safe escape routes in case of an underground fire, while a greater risk of explosions may provide an additional threat. Employers have a responsibility to adhere to federal OSHA workplace safety regulations to provide a safer environment for employees working in these conditions.
The Mine Safety and Health Administration has issued workplace safety standards, including those that mandate atmosphere monitoring and ventilation systems. Tunnels used in mining must be equipped with fire protection and suppression systems adequate for the environment, while workers must be provided with personal protective equipment in case of a workplace accident. The quality of the ventilation system can have a major impact on the ability to prevent, detect and fight fires in mine tunnels. One newer system, called ventilation on demand, uses electronic sensors to direct the limited flow of clean, fresh air to occupied areas.
There are a number of personal protective items that can provide a safer environment for workers. Breathing systems can help workers to survive in case of a catastrophic accident, while portable firefighting packs and gas detection units can keep workers out of unsafe areas and quench a fire before it grows to an overwhelmingly dangerous level.
In industries like mining with significant inherent risks of workplace injuries and accidents, adhering to safety standards is particularly critical. When employers fail to do so, the results can be catastrophic. Workers who have been injured on the job may consult with a workers’ compensation attorney about how to protect their rights and pursue the benefits they need.