Benchmarking the aggregate industry on safety

By |  May 21, 2018
Photo by Daniel Friedman

The metal/nonmetal mining sector reached a new low in 2017 with 13 fatalities. Just four years ago, 30 people died in the metal/nonmetal mining sector. Photo by Daniel Friedman

The aggregate industry – and the mining industry as a whole – continues to make great strides in the realm of mine safety and health.

From a historical perspective, the mining industry is operating at or near all-time lows when it comes to fatalities and injuries. According to the Mine Safety & Health Administration (MSHA), which oversees both metal/nonmetal mining and coal mining, the number of fatalities that occurred across all U.S. mines last year was 28.

That figure was up slightly over 2016, but in line with the mining industry’s performance over the last three years. Prior to 2015, the mining industry had a run of four straight years with at least 36 fatalities. The mining industry had a seven-year-high 46 fatalities in 2014, so tremendous progress has been made in just the last few years.

The majority of 2014 mining fatalities (30) occurred in the metal/nonmetal sector. That figure dropped to 17 in both 2015 and 2016, and the metal/nonmetal sector reached a new low in 2017 with 13 fatalities. The majority of the 13 fatalities in metal/nonmetal were, however, tied to crushed stone, sand and gravel operations.

Fatalities in the mining industry have steadily decreased in recent years.

At least six of last year’s metal/nonmetal fatalities involved powered haulage equipment. This is one area where the mining industry can do better, says David Zatezalo, assistant secretary of MSHA.

“Since 2003 we’ve had 23 fatalities of this nature,” Zatezalo says. “This is unacceptable.”

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