Why You Should Never Wear Sports Shoes in a Coal Mine

Coal miners unlike the ordinary workers are part of one of the most dangerous jobs around the world. Daily. For long hours. Day in and day out.

Conditions are harsh to say at least. Even the air is polluted.

The very least they can do for themselves is to ensure they are as protected as possible. It would be great if all employers provided for work wear and footwear, but the ugly truth is that most don’t. In the light of the industry decline, it is almost a miracle when employers provide ALL the necessary work clothes, equipment and shoes for their miners.

Some employers even don’t seem to care for the hard working miners that earn them fortunes. So, the workers need to be more pro-active and do the best for themselves. Makes sure they wear the necessary safety equipment.

Safety boots and safety shoes for mining have to provide the highest protection possible, while staying flexible and providing maximum comfort and grip. Choose from mid-shin and mid-calf styles for extra support around the ankle and lower leg. Whether you will go for lace-up miner boots or for the slip-on version is more of a matter of personal preference. What is important though is that they have steel or composite safety toes, they are waterproof to keep your feet dry during the long shifts and that the boots fit your feet comfortably so you don’t have issues with them. A good thing to have are puncture resistance soles so that your feet are protected against sharp objects. Reflecting striping is also another extremely useful feature.

We’ve already discussed that the hi-visibility clothing and safety boots are a must and you’d better follow the advice we’ve given there. However not everyone can afford the (often) expensive items, so let’s not discuss what to avoid at all costs. Let’s just agree that every in-between is acceptable. Deal? Deal.

Don’t wear sports shoes or canvas sneakers at work. The old dogs know this one too well, but beginners might be tempted just to slip whatever they have at hand at the moment. The features that make crosstraining shoes great don’t make them suitable footwear for miners. The same simple rule applies for clothes too. Don’t just dump on your gardeners overall and go to work. Ask your supervisors and colleagues. Check what brands they prefer and what are the must-have features.

The Coal Miner Knives series

Recently my attention got caught to a knife series dedicated to coal miners. I’ve always have a spot in my heart for coal miners and was immediately attached to those knives. In no means I am fooled that these are made for coal miners. Sure they are not, even though they would serve well every coal miner. These knives were made to pay homage to the many men and women who dig coal in Appalachia or in other coal-related regions. They pay homage to the brave individuals who choose the risky profession, chose to accept all health related risks and life threatening conditions usually related to coal mining. It is homage to all those fine people who made our country great. The coal actually fuelled the industrial revolution and would be the main energy production method for years to come.

So, which is the coal miner series of knives?



  • The Trapper
  • The Stockman
  • The Work Knife
  • The Lock Back
  • The Utility knife w/ Wrench
  • The Electrician
  • The Hawkbill

Most of them have distinctive handle with pattern design you cannot miss. We believe (although there is no hard proof) that this series featured only the first four knives at first. The last three were added at a later stage. Also, the first release didn’t have the stamping “Coal Miner“ and the boxes featured a different design.

The material of the handle is also debatable. While some people claim that the smooth handles are actually made from buffalo horn, the manufacturer simply listed them as made of bonel. Also smooth handles are stamped with BE PREPARED reminder in silver coating.

Even though most of these knives can still be bough,and come with quite inexpensive price tag, I totally believe that there are other foldable knives with better quality for similar dollar value. Most of the coal miner’s series are more valuable as collection item rather than of real use in Appalacia mines.

Interesting facts:

  1. The trapper is the most collected knife of the whole series
  2. Two of the knives feature smooth handles, the rest five jigged bone handles
  3. All knives in the series are foldable pocket knives.
  4. Overall length when closed varies between 3 3/8 inches to 5 3/8 inches
  5. One of the knives even features a working Crescent Wrench!
  6. Some of these knives can be still bought for just $10. They have great quality for that price!
  7. There is striking lack of continuity in the series



Mine Safety – Why Hi Visibility Clothing and Safety boots Are a Must-have

Protection is a must for the people working in the mining industry. There are simply so many hazard under there, that the employees and the employers need to stick to the good safety practices. Following the safety protocols and having the right equipment.

If an accident occurs, employees with the right protection will face reduced risk of injuries suck as broken bones or toes, minor burns, bleeding cuts. Donning high-visibility clothing will increase their chances of being found in case of an accident.


US health and safety organization (OSHA) state that employers must provide personal protective equipment to their employees in certain cases. Follow this link to find out about your worker’s right and your employers responsibilities.

However, both parties must be familiar with the benefits of using the right protective equipment and using it correctly. Here is a short video covering the safety problems in mining industry.


The equipment serves several important purposes:

  • Skin protection. The correct equipment protects from cuts, grazes and rashes as well as from minor burns
  • Protection from the elements – some jobs require working even in the harshest conditions – from freezing cold to burning hot weather, workers are out there doing their job.
  • Protection from accidents. Let’s face it – accidents happen. Minimizing the risk of injuries is as important as taking protective measures to minimize the harm. Workers are required to use safety helmets, protective goggles or even face shields, quality steel-toe boots, long-sleeved shirts, long trousers, high visibility vests, ear plugs or ear protection.

The clothing and footwear must be purchased for each worker. Also – they must be the right fit. Too large or too small equipment means compromises with safety.


The equipment will serve you well only if maintained well. To serve its purpose, the equipment must be functioning well. Only proper and regular maintenance will ensure all the equipment is in good working order whenever needed.

The damaged equipment needs to be replaced or serviced immediately. Clothing and shoes must be cleaned after each use and stored according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Where to buy from?

In mining – industry where safety is extremely important, we advise you to always look for reliable suppliers and authorized dealers of the equipment. If you decide to purchase online, use suppliers that offer exchange in case the equipment don’t fit as supposed. For example Amazon offers quality safety toed boots with free shipping and on top of that offers hassle free returns. A number of other online stores offer similar options as well. Just make sure to check about that before you decide to purchase.

Sure enough even the highest quality equipment won’t stop the incident from happening. However it would hugely reduce the risk and impact of consequent injuries.

Coal’s Decline Is Choking Appalachia Towns

Towns are struggling to keep public services running as many mines close. The cutbacks are due to a steep decline in the coal production that is due to a number of factors, including alternative energy sources with lower prices and new regulations. Coal is becoming less and less competitive and the result is sharp decrease in the counties budgets. According to the Appalacian regional commission, 93 out of 420 counties are severely affected.

The regions have been mined for more than two decades, resulting in the best and cheapest coal already excavated.

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Why the Coal Industry in Central Appalachia is Dying

This region of Appalachia has been the heart and soul of the coal industry for a long, long time. Longer than anyone could remember. However, a worrying trend is noticed in the recent years. West Virginia and Kentucky’s coal industries are declining fast. The coal communities are suffering by trends that are going on for decades.

Apart from regulations, and coal mine retirements, there is another trend – the coal in Central Appalachian region is vanishing. Many of the easy to mine seams are running out of resources. The energy administration reports that its analysis show that the coal production in the regions is soon to be half of what it used to be. It has plunged from 234 million tons of coal in 2008 to 112 million tons in 2015.



Problems are many, and some of it originate from the fact that cheap natural gas is getting more and more popular.

Coal mining has been elbowed aside by the natural gas and the new EPA requirements for pollution. As a direct result from that many US plant owners plan to retire 8.5% of all coal-fired generators used in US.

Even though the coal industry has been able to manage to overcome that by exporting coal to Europe and Asia, this is due to stagnate in the recent years.

This all means that the US coal mining industry is facing too many challenges and pressures from all fronts. Both regulatory challenges and competition of cheaper sources.

The cost of the decline

It would be huge. Both to coal-reliant communities in Appalachia region and for the whole Virginia’s budget. The coal industry represents 15% of the entire states budget. Sure thing, it won’t just vanish, but is slowly but surely slipping away. That means nothing good for the residents as the deficit in the budget needs to be compensated by another sources. This would translate to sharp decrease in the tax revenue for Kentucky and West Virginia.

What can be done?

Simply said, these states need to transition to cleaner sources of energy. They could even thrive by the shift. It would be far from easy (remember Detroit struggles with reliance solely to auto industry for years?). West Virginia could explore other options such as getting into shale-gas drilling. Or switch to other clean energy resources such as solar or wind-powered plants or switch to sustainable biomass energy.

There are a lot of decisions to be taken and a lot of hard time ahead. However, Central Appalachia should definitely shift away from its focus solely on coal.