Mining Deaths Drop to Historic Lows in FY 2016

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) released data that indicates Fiscal Year 2016 was the safest year in mining history.

From Oct. 1, 2015, to Sept. 30, 2016, 24 deaths – a record low – occurred at the more than 13,000 mines nationwide, the lowest total since 34 in FY 2013, Assistant Secretary of Labor Joseph A. Main announced at the National Mine Health and Safety Academy in Beaver, W.Va. In FY 2015, there were 38 mining deaths.

“These numbers represent nearly a 30 percent drop since FY 2013,” said Main, speaking at the annual Training Resources Applied to Mining conference. “The extensive efforts by MSHA and the mining community that held metal and nonmetal mining deaths to three during a 7-month period were instrumental in driving these numbers.”

Main cautioned against complacency, noting four fatal mining accidents occurred in September 2016. “We are eroding the gains we have made on behalf of our nation’s miners. Eliminating mining deaths and reducing injuries and illnesses is a goal that must be shared by all of us. We can – and must – strive to reach zero mining deaths,” he said.

For its part, MSHA is ramping up enforcement, outreach and compliance assistance actions. In a recent conference call with industry stakeholders, the agency urged participants to reinvigorate their efforts to reverse the trend in mining deaths and regain last year’s momentum, which produced the safest period in mining history. “We are calling on all of our stakeholders, including mine operators, miners’ organizations, associations and trainers, to increase their attention to the conditions and hazards that are leading to fatalities,” said Main.

Main also noted that efforts to lower levels of respirable coal mine dust and silica in the nation’s coal mines remain on track. Mine operators and MSHA personnel have collected nearly 154,000 respirable dust samples, and 99.3 percent of those samples met compliance levels.

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