Coal mining deaths in U.S. fall to historic low in 2014
- The number of coal mining deaths in the U.S. fell to the lowest level on record last year, an improvement for an industry that in recent years has suffered under a blemished safety record.
The Labor Department’s Mine Safety and Health Administration this week said coal mining deaths fell to 16 in 2014, down from 20 the prior year and below the previous low of 18 set in 2009.
Among all mining operations, the number of fatalities fell to 40 from 42.
“Mining deaths are preventable, and those that occurred in 2014 are no exception,” said Joseph Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. “While MSHA and the mining industry have made a number of improvements and have been moving mine safety in the right direction, these deaths, particularly those in the metal and nonmetal industry, makes clear the need to do more to protect our nation’s miners.”
One reason for fewer coal mining deaths may be a drop in the number of workers in the industry. Annual figures for 2014 aren’t yet available, but the overall trend has been declining since a near-term peak of 87,500 in 2011. There were 79,400 coal industry employees in the U.S. in 2013.
Coal industry fatalities spiked in 2010 when an accident at Massey Energy Co.’s Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia killed 29 miners.
While dangerous, mining isn’t the most deadly job. Among all occupations, logging workers, fishermen, pilots, roofers, and refuse and recyclable collectors all have higher fatal injury rates than mining machine operators.
Publish date : Wednesday 7 January 2015 20:20
Story Code: 19148