Mining Fatalities

Preliminary Data Shows Q4 Spike in Fatalities

Industry looks for solutions to sudden rise in miner deaths.
By: | February 21, 2014

Forty-two miners died from workplace accidents in 2013. The number is surprising, given the record low rate for the first three quarters of the year. The most common causes of mining accidents last year involved machinery and powered haulage equipment.

The latest report from the Mine Safety and Health Administration represents an increase from the 36 deaths reported in 2012. Fifteen deaths were recorded in the fourth quarter of last year, including six coal miners and nine metal/nonmetal miners who died in mining accidents. That compares with the deaths of four coal miners and two metal/nonmetal miners in 2012.

Overall for 2013, the MSHA reported 20 coal mining and 22 metal/nonmetal mining fatalities compared with 20 and 16, respectively, in 2012. Four mining deaths occurred in 2013 which the agency said represents “the fewest number of contractor deaths since MSHA began maintaining contractor data in 1983.”


Fourteen of the coal mining deaths occurred underground, and six occurred at surface operations. In metal/nonmetal mining, five deaths occurred underground, and 17 occurred at surface operations. West Virginia had the most coal mining deaths with six, and Kentucky had the most metal/nonmetal mining deaths with four.

“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,” said Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health.

Main said mining deaths can be prevented if mine operators:

  • 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.

The agency has ramped up safety efforts by increasing surveillance and strategic enforcement through impact inspections at mines with compliance problems, enhancing its pattern of violation actions, and engaging in outreach efforts with the mining community, Main said. It has also implemented special initiatives such as rules to live by, which focuses attention on the most common causes of mining deaths.

“It takes the entire mining community to continue to reach new milestones in health and safety,” he said.

Nancy Grover is the president of NMG Consulting and the Editor of Workers' Compensation Report, a publication of our parent company, LRP Publications. She can be reached at [email protected]

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