Autopsy evaluation of coal mining deaths in the city of Zonguldak, Turkey
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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.