In 2012, the Mining Industry Set Another Record for Fewest Fatalities, but Data Still Shows Strong Correlation Between Lack of Training and Deaths
Data from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) shows that fatalities in the mining industry reached an all-time low in 2012, mostly thanks to stricter standards. This marks the second straight year in which the fatality number, calculated by considering fatalities per 200,000 hours worked, bottomed out in the best way possible.
According to Joseph A. Main, Assistant Secretary of Labor for MSHA,
“Of all miners working in mines last year, fewer lost their lives in mining accidents, and more returned home safely to their family and friends at the end of their shifts. While mining deaths and injuries — due to the efforts of all in the mining industry — have reached historic lows, more actions are needed to prevent mining injuries, illnesses and deaths.”
Of the 36 fatalities in 2012, 19 occurred in coal mines and 17 occured in metal/nonmetal mining. The leading cause of fatality was powered haulage which cost 10 miners their lives. Spread out geographically, the fatalities occurred in the following states.
Seven miners died in West Virginia, five in Kentucky, three each in New York and Alabama, two each in Montana and Florida, and one each in Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Virginia.
Experience and training also seem to be a key factor in the fatalities as many of the incidents happened to workers with little experience. According to the MSHA Press Release,
In 2012, three of the miners killed at metal/nonmetal mines had less than one year of experience at the mine. Five miners had less than one year of experience at the job or task they were performing. At coal mines, five miners who died had one year or less experience at the mine. Eight miners who were killed had one year or less experience at the job or task they were performing when they died.
Joseph Main noted,
“These numbers underscore that effective and appropriate training — particularly task training — needs to be provided to miners before they perform a new task,” said Main.
While the mining industry has become safer, steps can still be taken to provide workers with the necessary training to prepare them for the situations that most often lead to injury.
The entire MSHA report can be found here.