Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Thanks, but No Thanks: When Did Americans Become So Obsessed with Reality TV That It Became Necessary for Reporters to Risk Their Lives to Report a Story about Workplace Deaths?

Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Thanks, but No Thanks: When Did Americans Become So Obsessed with Reality TV That It Became Necessary for Reporters to Risk Their Lives to Report a Story about Workplace Deaths?

Article excerpt

My grandfather was a coal miner. The one thing I learned from having a grandfather who was a coal miner is that I never wanted to go into an underground mine, ever.

Don't get me wrong: I have tremendous respect for the men and women who work in mines. It is a tough, tough job and they are some of the hardest working people I've ever met.

But that doesn't change the fact that mines become tombs all too often. The most-recent statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that fatalities in coal mining facilities doubled last year, and a total of 47 miners died as a result of injuries suffered in below- and aboveground mining facilities.

I've been in above-ground pit mines--most notably, Phelps Dodge's copper mine in Morenci, Ariz.--where the haul trucks rumbling down the roads weighed well over 200 tons (big enough to crush a pickup truck like it was an orange) and rock ledges were being blown up in the search for more copper. I've been in nuclear weapons facilities turned toxic wastelands where I had to wear protective clothing and a badge to monitor radiation and have my car scanned for radioactivity when I left. I am not a coward.

But if I was one of the reporters covering the collapse in the Crandall Canyon coal mine in Utah, I would have graciously declined the invitation from mine owner Robert Murray to enter the mine and view rescue efforts firsthand. …

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