However, as the years went by, contract manager jobs have been improving. Mine operators have improved the ventilation and lighting in underground mines and have taken steps to eliminate safety hazards for all workers nevertheless, operators of the heavy machinery both on the surface and below ground run the risk of injury or death from accidents. Other possible hazards for underground miners include roof falls or cave-ins, poisonous and explosive gases, and long exposure to coal dust. They extract coal from surface mines and underground mines, using complex and expensive machinery. Even before the development of agriculture or weaving, Stone Age people were mining for minerals buried in the earth, flints to make weapons, mineral pigments for ornamentation. At first they dug open pits to reach the more easily accessible ores. Then they built primitive tunnels underground, where early miners used sticks and bones to dig out soft or broken rocks. Hard rocks were broken by driving metal or wooden wedges in to a crack in the surface. An early method for dealing with particularly large, stubborn rocks was to build fires alongside them until they became thoroughly heated and then to dash cold water against them - the sudden contraction would cause the rocks to fracture.
The coal industry's contract management jobs played a vital role in the rapid industrial development of the United States as a whole. Its importance increased dramatically during the 1870s with the expansion of the railroads and the development of the steel industry, and during the 1880s when steam began to be used to generate electric power. Coal was the primary source of energy until after 1920, when it was almost replaced by hydroelectric power and oil. Oil and natural gas are preferred because they are cheaper, cleaner, and easier to handle. But today, the rising price of oil and its uncertain supply are making coal a major energy source again. Actually, there are two major coal mines - the surface and underground. The method used is determined by the depth and location of the coal seam and the geological formation around it. In surface mining, or strip mining, the overburden- the earth above the coal seam has to be removed before the coal can be dug out. Then, after the mining has been completed, the overburden is replaced so the land can be reclaimed. For underground mining, entries and tunnels are constructed so that the workers and equipment can reach the coal. The machinery used in coal mining is extremely complex and expensive.
Part of their contract project management job is the task of the coal mining operatives to operate the machines safely and efficiently. Their specific duties vary depending on the type of mine and the machinery they operate. Bulldozer operators use a tractor equipped with a concave blade attached across the front to remove trees, rocks, soil, and other obstructions from the mining area. They push rocks and dirt within reach of the shovels and scoops of machines that remove the overburden. They also help replace the overburden when mining has been completed. Meanwhile, machine drillers operate drilling machines to bore holes in the overburden at points selected by the blasters. They must be careful to avoid binding or stoppage of a drill while in operation. They may replace worn or broken parts using hand tools, change drill bits, and lubricate the equipment.
Because of the age limitation for coal mining operatives, opportunities that deal with contract project management jobs do not exist for most high-school students to gain actual experience. Students over the age of eighteen may possible find summer work as laborers in a coal mine, performing routine tasks that require no previous experience. Older students may also investigate the possibility of summer or part-time employment in metal mines, quarries, oil drilling operations, heavy construction, road building, or truck driving. While the work may not be directly related to their goals, the aptitudes required are similar and the experience may prove useful. However, there is camaraderie among workers who share heavy labor, hardship and danger. Mine workers may be characterized by a concern for their fellow miners. There is no room for carelessness in this occupation. The safety of all depends on teamwork, with everyone alert and careful to avoid accidents. Miners are not afraid of discomfort, dirt, and strenuous work.
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