The U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration announced the release of final data for 2012 that indicate the lowest fatality and injury rates in the history of U.S. mining, along with the lowest rate of contractor fatalities since the agency began calculating those rates in 1983.
Thirty-six miners died on the job in 2012. The 2012 total includes the Dec. 28 death of a coal miner at Choctaw Mine in Walker County, Ala., that was recently deemed chargeable to the mining industry. Five contractors died in mining accidents in 2012, compared to 11 in 2011, nearly half the lowest number ever recorded.
“While more needs to be done to protect the nation’s miners, we are moving mine safety in the right direction. The actions undertaken by MSHA and the mining community were the key to the continuing improvements we saw in 2012,” said Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. “All miners deserve the safest possible working conditions.”
In metal and nonmetal mining, the record-low fatality rate was .0079 deaths per 200,000 hours worked. Sixteen miners died in on-the-job accidents, equaling the record low set in 2011.
The reported injury rate of 2.19 per 200,000 hours worked also was a record low. Citations and orders issued dropped from 63,472 in 2011 to 60,520 in 2012, a 5 percent reduction. While the number of metal and nonmetal mines remained steady in 2012 at 12,193, the number of miners increased from 237,772 in 2011 to 250,228 in 2012.