Do you know that the average salary of miners in the United States ranges from $80,000 to $200,000? In fact, the average miner can make more money in a year than an accountant working for a mid-sized company. It is not surprising that many young people aspire to get into this industry which has implemented safety initiatives like mine dust control to make it more enticing for potential talents.

However, if you consider the dangers that miners have to face on a daily basis, then you can say that they deserve every penny that they get. Most of the time, miners have to risk their lives. In the United States, it is estimated that 50 to 60 coal miners die every year while at work.

Until 2001, the mining industry was considered the most dangerous for workers. But surprisingly it no longer has that dubious distinction. It is now outranked by other industries like industrial fishing and aircraft related occupations, per statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Still, miners are exposed to dangers like explosions, cave-ins, and accidents. They are also exposed to the following working conditions presenting health and safety dangers:

1. Dust-- microscopic dust particles generated by mining activities can enter the lungs of miners, causing a disease called pneumoconiosis. It can lead to fibrosis, or the scarring of the lungs. Pneumoconiosis also has a disabling form called silicosis that happens when miners inhale excessive amount of quarts. Black lung disease is also another form of pneumoconiosis that is common among coal miners.

Although many mining firms have haul road dust control to suppress dust in the worksites, the number of miners suffering from dust-related diseases continues to rise.

2. Noise—unfiltered noise coming from mining equipment such as drills, crushers, and engines can damage the hearing of miners, leading to temporary or permanent hearing loss. It may also cause speech interference and eardrum rupture.

3. Radon—this is radioactive and odorless gas that is often associated with underground mining. Long term exposure to radon can lead to lung cancer.

4. Mercury—this is a heavy metal that is found in 25 organic compounds. It can be inhaled, swallowed, or absorbed by workers through their skin. Even exposure to small amounts of mercury can lead to severe poisoning. Some of the symptoms of mercury poisoning are mouth ulcers, bleeding gums, loose teeth, nausea, headaches, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.

5. Heavy loads—miners usually suffer from back injuries brought about by lifting and shoveling. It is estimated that one of four mining injuries are due to back injuries.

Although the mining industry has made a lot of headway in promoting worker safety like mine dust controls and haul road dust control, it cannot be denied that miners are always at risk.