U.S. Mining Deaths Dropped to New Low in 2016

Twenty-five U.S. miners died in work-related accidents last year.

Data released by the Mine Safety and Health Administration indicates 25 miners died in work-related accidents in 2016, down from 29 in 2015. According to the agency's report, that figure represents the lowest number of mining deaths ever recorded. Approximately 330,000 miners work in more than 13,000 U.S. mines.

Nine of the fatalities occurred in coal mines, and the leading cause of death was powered haulage and machinery, which accounted for six of the deaths.

Sixteen deaths were reported in metal and nonmetal mines, with the leading cause of death listed as machinery accidents. Assistant Secretary of Labor Joseph A. Main credited the use of strategic enforcement tools, as well as improved compliance.

"While these deaths show that more needs to be done to protect our nation's miners, we have reached a new era in mine safety in the past few years," said Main. "Each year since 2009, injury rates have dropped, and the number of mining deaths and fatality rates were less than in all prior years in history except in 2010, when the Upper Big Branch mine disaster occurred."

The National Mining Association also celebrated the new milestone. "We are proud of our industry for showing continued progress because it exemplifies our commitment to making American mines the world’s safest and our determination to return every miner home safely after every shift," said NMA President and CEO Hal Quinn. "This safety milestone confirms the value of our voluntary safety initiatives and our determination to achieve excellence in mine safety and health year after year."

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