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Mining Fatalities in U.S. Drop to Record Low in 2016

January 4, 2017

2 Min Read
Mining Fatalities in U.S. Drop to Record Low in 2016
New MSHA data shows U.S. mining deaths reached a historic low in the calendar year 2016. Image courtesy of Flickr user martisunhine

25 miners died in work-related incidents in American mines during the 2016 calendar year, the lowest figure recorded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), according to data released by the agency on Tuesday.

The latest statistics represent “only the second year” that deaths in U.S. mines fell under 30. 29 miners died in the U.S. in 2015, the agency found. In 2016, there were 330,000 miners working in over 13,000 mines in the country.

“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 Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health Joseph A. Main in a statement, who ascribed the historically low rates to the agency’s strategic enforcement efforts, like targeted impact inspections, special initiatives to combat common causes of deaths in mines, agency assistance with compliance, and increased training and outreach. “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.”

Main said the mining industry has made strides in compliance to the agency’s regulations. MSHA said it has encouraged operators of American mines to put effective health and safety programs, conduct their own safety inspections to identify and fix threats to worker health, and properly train miners won hazards and conditions that could lead to injuries, illnesses, or death.

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“We have created a new roadmap to protect our nation’s miners,” said Main in the agency release.

Nine of the 25 deaths recorded last year happened in coal mines, with powered haulage and machinery causing six deaths at coal sites in 2016, the agency said. The previous historic low occurred in 2015, when deaths in coal mines fell to 12. 16 fatalities occurred at metal and nonmetal mines. Powered haulage caused three deaths at those mines, and machinery accidents were the cause of four other fatalities.

In November, the MSHA released data showing that mining deaths in fiscal year 2016 reached an “all-time low,” Powder & Bulk Solids reported

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