Mining deaths in 2013 increased by approximately 1.5 percent from those that occurred in 2012 – jumping from 36 mining fatalities in 2012 to 42 mining deaths in 2013, according to preliminary reports issued by officials at the Mining Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). Although 2013 had been on target to reporting less mining deaths, as well as record decreases in the reported number of mining accidents and injuries, than in previous years, the fourth quarter proved disastrous for the mining industry, as 15 new fatalities in the final three months of the year boosted the fatality statistics.
Taking a closer look at the preliminary mining industry statistics compiled and presented by the MSHA for 2013, the following are reported:
- Despite the increase in mining deaths in 2013, there was a decrease in the number of contractor fatalities, with only 4 contractors reportedly sustaining fatal mining injuries last year. According to the MSHA, this marks an all-time low in contractor mining deaths since those that reportedly occurred in 1983.
- Machinery accidents and malfunctions associated with powered haulage equipment were the most common causes of mining deaths in 2013.
- While the most mining fatalities reportedly took place in West Virginia (with 6 deaths occurring in this state), the second most reported mining deaths occurred in Kentucky (where 4 mining workers lost their lives on the job in 2013).
As Joseph Main, a representative of MSHA, has astutely pointed out, “Mining deaths are preventable, and those that occurred in 2013 are no exception … While we have made a number of improvements and have been moving mine safety in the right direction, the increased number of metal/nonmetal deaths [in 2013] makes [it] clear [that] we need to do more to protect our nation’s miners.”
Some of the specific safety precautions that officials have highlighted as necessary to continuing to try to reduce the number of mining fatalities that occur each year include better safety and health programs, as well as improved safety training for mine workers.
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