Surface mining has grown over the last decades across North America. The practice is used to get coal from seems either just below the Earth’s surface or in a vertical angle that would make an underground mine dangerous and not profitable.
Surface mining is accomplished by removing overburden from the coal seam and then removing the coal. Miners employed at surface mines operate draglines, shovels, bulldozers, front-end loaders, bucket wheel excavators and trucks.
While safety issues at surface mines are different than in underground mines, there are still many safety concerns the union contract addresses. Safety issues for surface mine workers include stable footing and roads for the large machinery, proximity of the drag line and dumping areas to other workers, operating conditions of trucks and other machinery to lower long-term back and muscle issues from driving or operating large machines on rough terrain.