Occupational fatalities among coal mine workers in Zonguldak, Turkey, 1994-2003

Forensic Medicine Department, Afyon Kocatepe University School of Medicine, Afyonkarahisar, Turkey.
Occupational Medicine (Impact Factor: 1.03). 04/2006; 56(2):144-6. DOI: 10.1093/occmed/kqj023
Source: PubMed


Fatal underground coal mine injuries are a worldwide problem. Zonguldak holds 95% of all Turkey's coal reserves.
To investigate fatalities in the underground coal-mining industry in the Zonguldak province.
Retrospective study of fatal underground coal-mining accidents from 1994 to 2003 through evaluation of industry records.
There were 164 deaths available for analysis. The median age was 36 years (range: 14-56 years). Eighty-one fatalities (49%) were due to subsidence, 33 (20%) were due to underground railway accidents and 18 (11%) were due to gas poisoning. Asphyxia was the most common cause of death (99, 60%). The majority of fatalities (144, 87%) occurred instantaneously at the scene of the incident. The remainder (20, 13%) occurred on the way to the hospital or in the emergency room or the intensive care unit.
The underground coal-mining industry in Turkey requires strategies to improve safety and reduce the number of fatalities occurring. These strategies should focus on improved underground safety through engineering measures.

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    • "The mining industry has the highest incidence of occupational deaths among all industries. Common causes of occupational deaths include rock falls, fires, explosions, methane intoxication, and electrocution [6]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background In this study, our aim was to evaluate the fatal occupational accidents that occurred in Zonguldak coal mines between the years 2005–2008. Material/Methods We retrospectively evaluated 42 fatal coal mine occupational accidents in Zonguldak (Turkey) between the years 2005–2008. The forensic records of autopsies referred to the chief prosecutors’ office during 2005–2008 were reviewed retrospectively. There were 42 cases. The cases were evaluated with respect to age, mechanism of injury, body region of wound, cause of death, and legality of the mine. Results Ages of the deceased ranged between 17 and 52 (median: 32.9 yrs). Deaths were mostly in the 21–30 (35.8%), and 31–40 (30.9%) age groups. Only 1 case was younger than 18 years of age. Review of occupational fatalities has revealed that fatal accidents occurred mostly (76.2%) in the private, and fewer (23.8%) in the public mining enterprises. Crime scene investigation findings have demonstrated that of all occupational deaths (total n=42), 27 (64.3%) were due to subsidence, followed by methane gas poisoning (n=6, 14.2%), tram crash (n=3, 7.1%), log falls (n=2, 4.8%), electrocution (n=2, 4.8%), and methane explosion (n=2, 4.8%). Conclusions Despite laws and regulations concerning mining and because of problems in their implementation, Turkey leads the world in work-related accidents, occupational injuries, and deaths. Evaluation of autopsy findings of deaths in fatal occupational accidents occurring in coal mines is quite important in planning to decrease rates of occupational fatalities.
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    • "Nonetheless , there are still significant mining risks such as flooding , fall of ground, underground fires, handling and use of cyanide, storage of and exposure to radiation materials, and other airborne pollution that need to be addressed. These have been responsible for a continuing series of environmental and health disasters, which cause great human tragedies and loss of life and undermine social or economic stability and sustainability [2] [3] [4] [5]. Mining remains one of the most hazardous environmental occupations worldwide with underground coal and gold mines characterized by high accident rates even in relatively efficient mining operations [6– 8]. "
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