Coalmining Research Paper

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Coalmining was a prominent industry throughout eastern Pennsylvania, northern Maryland, and Wyoming. In 1885, legislation was passed in order to restrict the working age of miners. Breaker boys, who worked aboveground to sort slate, rocks, and other debris from the coal, were required to be at least twelve years of age. Underground miners were required to be at least fourteen years of age. Boys ' parents often presented a fake birth certificate with an altered date of birth in order to have their children, who were often as young as five or six years of age, work in the mines. Breaker boys, the youngest of the miners, were subjected to large quantities of coal dust while they sat on the edges of trough-like chutes in order to handpick debris…show more content…
After working for very long hours, as long as twelve hours a day, a breaker boy would become exhausted and careless around the machinery. Exhausted boys ran the risk of serious injury from the machinery. Fingers were often caught in coal conveyers, causing either severe maiming of the hand or the loss of fingers. Occasionally a boy fell into the coal crusher and was ground to pieces. Working conditions were significantly more dangerous in the underground mining operations. The daily chances of severe injury or death were much greater than aboveground. Poisonous gases, especially methane, which was released naturally by the process of coalmining, were always present underground. A buildup of methane and carbon monoxide usually led to an explosion that killed many of the miners. Mining tunnels often collapsed, either paralyzing or crushing the workers to death. Sometimes a young miner would be crushed to the ground so severely that his body would have to be scraped from the floor of the mine with a shovel. Underground fires, a precursor or aftermath of an explosion, would trap workers underground with no means of escape. Miners defecated in the mines due to lack of proper sanitation facilities. Rat infestation was a common problem that led to the spread of

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