Metal/nonmetal mining fatalities increase by 6 in 2013

January 7, 2014


The metal/nonmetal mining sector saw 22 fatalities in 2013, an increase of six fatalities compared to 2012, according to preliminary data the Mining Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) released on Monday.

MSHA notes that 2013 fatalities remained at a record low rate for the first three quarters of the year. However, nine metal/nonmetal fatalities in the fourth quarter — a significant increase from the two fatalities that occurred in the fourth quarter of 2012 — caused the number of fatalities to rise. The preliminary fatality and injury rate for the first three quarters of 2013 stood at 2.45, which was lower than the fatality and injury rate for the same period in 2012. Rates for calendar year 2013 are not yet available.

The preliminary fatality rate for all mining sectors during fiscal year 2013 (October 1, 2012 through September 30, 2013) was at an all-time low of 0.0104, while the preliminary injury rate — also at an all-time low — was 2.42. Total mining deaths for that period were also the lowest ever at 33.

Two of the metal/nonmetal fatalities in 2013 involved contractors, marking an all-time low since MSHA began recording contractor data in 1983.

Of the 22 deaths, five occurred underground and 17 took place at surface operations.

The most common causes of mining accidents in 2013 involved machinery and powered haulage equipment.

Kentucky had the most metal/nonmetal mining deaths, with fatalities in the state totaling four for the year.

Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health, said in a written statement that any number of mining fatalities is inexcusable.

“Mining deaths are preventable, and those that occurred in 2013 are no exception,” Main said. “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 makes clear we need to do more to protect our nation’s miners.”

Main added that operators need to follow these best practices to prevent jobsite fatalities:

  • Maintain effective safety and health management programs that are constantly evaluated

  • Continue find-and-fix programs to identify and eliminate mine hazards

  • Provide training for all mining personnel

MSHA notes that, to help prevent mining deaths, the agency has increased surveillance and strategic enforcement through impact inspections at mines with troubling compliance histories; enhanced pattern of violations actions; implemented special initiatives, such as “Rules to Live By,” which focuses attention on the most common causes of mining deaths; and engaged in outreach efforts with the mining community.

To see an analysis of mining fatalities and best practices, click here.

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