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MSHA Reports Half-Year Fatality Analysis


From Jan. 1, 2013, to June 30, 2013, 18 miners died in accidents in the mining industry, according to MSHA. Nine died in coal mining accidents and nine in metal and nonmetal mining accidents. In both coal and metal and nonmetal mining, one of the miners killed was a contractor.

The number of miners that died in mining accidents the first half of 2013 was one less than the first half in 2012. While actions undertaken by MSHA and the mining industry continue to move mine safety in the right direction, the agency says, these deaths are a reminder that much more needs to be done to protect the nation’s miners.

The following provides more details on mining deaths that have occurred so far this year, according to MSHA.

■ In metal and nonmetal mining,
three of the fatalities occurred in the first quarter of the year and six occurred in the second quarter. One miner died as a result of a fall of highwall. One miner died in a machinery accident and one miner died in an accident involving explosives and breaking agents. Four miners died in powered haulage accidents, and two miners died in falling material accidents. Three of the fatalities occurred at underground mines; six were at surface mines. Three of the miners were mechanics, and two of the miners were supervisors.

■ In coal mining, eight of the fatalities
occurred in the first quarter of the year and one occurred in the second quarter. Two miners died in machinery accidents. Three miners died in powered haulage accidents, and two miners died as a result of roof fall accidents. One miner died in an accident resulting from exploding vessels under pressure, and one miner died in a hoisting accident. Eight of the fatalities occurred in underground mines; one was at a surface mine. The deaths were not isolated to certain occupations. Seven occupations were represented among the nine miners killed. Two of the powered haulage deaths may have been prevented through the use of proximity detection systems.

Some of the types of fatal accidents seen in the past are notably absent in this midyear report – fall of person fatalities and rib fall fatalities. Both of these areas have been topics of outreach and education efforts by MSHA to the mining community. MSHA issued a Program Policy Letter in June 2012 clarifying MSHA’s metal and nonmetal standards and stating the compliance with OSHA fall protection standard in many cases will satisfy MSHA’s requirements.

In coal this year, there have been no rib fall fatalities, compared to two last year. MSHA annually conducts the Preventive Roof/Rib Outreach Program and the Winter Alert Program, emphasizing the risk of rib fall and other hazards, and preventative measures to keep accidents and fatalities from happening.

One area where MSHA has recently placed significant emphasis is on conducting workplace examinations. Effective pre-shift, supplemental, on-shift and weekly examinations are the first line of defense to protect miners working in underground coal mines, and we can remove many of the conditions that can injure or kill miners by identifying and correcting those conditions earlier. Improved examinations will better protect our nation’s miners from injury and death.

Conducting these examinations is especially important in light of the fact that eight of the nine coal mining deaths that occurred in the first half of this year were at underground coal mines. Last August, MSHA’s final rule on Examinations of Work Areas in Underground Coal Mines for Violations of Mandatory Health or Safety Standards became effective.

In metal/nonmetal, fatalities continue to occur that could be prevented using Lock Out Tag Out best practices. Two of these fatalities could have been prevented by disconnecting the power and assuring it is off, having each miner on the job lock the power source in the safe position, using his or her personal safety lock and tag to prevent the power from being reenergized.