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Mining Deaths Drop to Historic Lows


According to the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), mining deaths dropped to historic lows in FY 2016. 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. By contrast, in FY 2015, there were 38 mining deaths.

Assistant Secretary of Labor Joseph A. Main announced the news at the National Mine Health and Safety Academy in Beaver, W.Va.

“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 seven-month period were instrumental in driving these numbers.”

Main cautioned against complacency, noting four fatal mining accidents occurred in September 2016, including the death of a 52-year-old contract drill operator with 27 years of experience, who was killed at Holston River Quarry Inc. in Virginia

“We are eroding the gains we have made on behalf of our nation’s miners, Main said. “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.”

For its part, MSHA is not letting up on quarries. The agency conducted an impact inspection on Sept. 28, 2016, at Buzzi Unicem USA’s Maryneal Quarry and Mill in Nolan County, Texas. Enforcement personnel issued 11 citations and four orders, including an imminent danger order requiring the operator to remove miners from dangerous unprotected roadways. 

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.

The aggregates industry already does a spectacular job on safety. But it’s no time to rest on our laurels either. Let’s keep up the good work.