For the 33 trapped Chilean miners potentially facing months in crammed quarters, their immediate health may be threatened by the air quality in the chamber and the limited ability to move, which can lead to blood clots. But even without such catastrophes, miners contend with many daily health dangers from working around dust, heavy metals, hazardous gases, fumes and loud noises.
Listed as the most dangerous industry for workers until 2001, mining is now outranked by industrial fishing, roofing and aircraft-related occupations, among others, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) attributes this improvement to the mining industry’s increasing “culture of prevention,” which includes stronger regulations, safer machinery and more education and training initiatives in the last 25 years.