In the United States and England the history of coal
extraction is a lesson on exploitation of workers and the growth of
unions. Work in the subsurface mines was back breaking. Hand drills
would cut into the coal to insert dynamite. Explosions would dislodge
the coal and then men would put the coal in carts to be brought to the
surface. The men would spend 10-16 hours in cramped, unsafe conditions.
Many men left their young wives and children widows as many men died in
mine disasters from explosions to suffocating from lack of oxygen.
Young breaker boys were used to sort the crushed coal into sellable
pieces. This type of child labor helped to enact Child Labor Laws in the
United States. The need for coal and exploitation of workers
became a national concern in the early 1900's.
Theodore Roosevelt in the early 1900's
Opening to a coal mine