Mining Deaths at All-Time Low

MSHA's chief said the 14 deaths were still too many. Its fatality prevention program has had an impact, he said.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration's midyear summary of U.S. mining deaths, as of June 30, reports 14 deaths: eight miners died in coal operations, and six died in the metal and nonmetal sector. "Even though the number of mining deaths for the first half of this year are at an all-time low, one mining death is still one too many," said Joe Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health.

"Fatalities can be prevented," he said. "They are not an inevitable byproduct of mining. Effective health and safety programs, training of miners, and proper workplace examinations can identify and eliminate the hazards that kill and injure miners. Mine operators are well aware they must take responsibility for the health and safety conditions in their mines to prevent these tragedies."

Three of the eight deaths in coal mining resulted from machinery accidents. Two were rib collapse accidents, two resulted from powered haulage accidents, and one miner died in a fall accident. Two of the eight fatalities involved contractors. Of the six fatalities in metal and nonmetal mines, two deaths resulted from roof collapses, one from being struck by sliding material, one in a machinery accident, one in a powered haulage accident, and one in yet another fall accident. Here, too, two of the fatalities involved contractors.

MSHA's "Rules to Live By," a fatality prevention program, highlights safety and health standards most frequently cited during fatal accident investigations. "We believe those actions, along with initiatives by the mining industry, have resulted in the improved safety record thus far this year," said Main. "No miners should have to die on the job just to earn a paycheck. MSHA is vigorously enforcing the Mine Act and constantly looking for ways to improve policies and regulations to prevent these unnecessary tragedies. We want all miners to go home safe and healthy at the end of each shift."

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