MSHA releases 2011 fatality data |

MSHA releases 2011 fatality data

The U.S Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration released Jan. 5 fatality figures for 2011.

According to reports, 37 miners died in work-related accidents across the country last year. One of those deaths occurred in Colorado.

It was the first such fatality in the state since 2007 and the ninth since 2001. The location of the mine was not released in the MSHA report.

Of the 37 mining fatalities recorded across the nation in 2011, 23 occurred at surface coal and metal mines, while 14 happened at underground mines.

Nine miners lost their lives due to accidents involving machinery, making it the leading cause of death in 2011.

Kentucky was home to the most fatalities last year with eight, followed by West Virginia with six and Ohio with three. All but one of those fatalities occurred in coal mines.

However, four of the nation’s largest coal-producing states experienced no fatalities in 2011, including Utah, Illinois, Alabama and Pennsylvania.

In addition, mine-related deaths were down by almost half compared to 2010, which saw 71 fatalities.

Last year also had the second lowest number of mining deaths since recording began in 1910.

“Mining deaths are preventable,” said Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for MSHA, in a news release. “The year that the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 passed, 273 miners died, and since that time, fatality numbers have steadily declined.

“In order to prevent mine deaths, operators must have in place effective safety and health management programs that are constantly evaluated, find and fix programs to identify and eliminate mine hazards, and training for all mining personnel.”

The drop in mining fatalities may be attributable to MSHA initiatives such as “Rules to Live By,” which focuses attention on the most common causes of mining deaths, and “Safety Pro in a Box,” which provides guidance to the metal/nonmetal mining industry on best practices and compliance responsibilities.

The agency has also stepped up surveillance and inspections in addition to an enhanced pattern of violation actions for mines with “troubling compliance histories.”

“It takes the entire mining community to continue to reach new milestones in health and safety,” Main said in the release. “While fewer miners are dying on the job, we can never alter our focus because, as we know, things can change in a moment.

“Miners need the reassurance that they will return home safe and healthy after each shift.”

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