A dream about being in a coal mine prompted some googling. The historical reality isn’t pretty:
UK Mine Disasters — “Between 1880 and 1910, over 1000 fatalities occurred every year in British coal mines.”
Interesting site devoted to the conflict in Coal Creek, Tennessee over use of convicts as slave labor to mine coal. Note the obvious RKBA implications.
Here’s a book about the 1958 Springhill, Nova Scotia disaster. I looked this one up because I remember from childhood a dreary folk song about the same event. The reality seems to have been more interesting than the song.
Happily, things are better now. But note that even in 2002 there were 27 coal mining deaths in the U.S., and an average of 40 deaths annually in 2000 and 2001. Keep these numbers in mind the next time someone asserts that nuclear power generation is dangerous.