Mine fatalities trending in wrong direction to start 2022

By |  February 9, 2022


The year is only six weeks old, but mine fatalities unfortunately continue to occur at a rate the industry has not experienced in years.

Based on information available on the Mine Safety & Health Administration’s (MSHA) website, six mine fatalities have already occurred in 2022. All six reportedly happened in January, with two occurring at aggregate operations. Three took place in coal mines and one in a copper ore mine.

Last year at this time, four mine fatalities had occurred based on MSHA data.

MSHA has not put out an official count on 2021 mine fatalities, but the agency has 36 individual fatality reports on its website for last year alone. If that count – or anywhere near it – stands as last year’s official total, then 2021 will mark the first time mine fatalities reached 30 or more since 2014. Forty-six fatalities occurred that year – 30 in metal/nonmetal, and 16 in coal.

Between 2015 and 2019, mine fatalities always finished in the 25 to 29 range. Metal/nonmetal-specific fatalities reached an all-time low of 13 in 2017, but that figure crept up to 24 in 2020. Again, MSHA has not released an official breakdown of 2021 fatalities by category (metal/nonmetal, coal), but a tally of the 36 reports online would indicate that 26 happened in metal/nonmetal mines.

MSHA classified two of this year’s six mine fatalities as powered haulage accidents. Powered haulage is currently an area of focus for the agency, which proposed a rule in 2021 for surface mobile equipment safety programs.

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About the Author:

Kevin Yanik is editor-in-chief of Pit & Quarry. He can be reached at 216-706-3724 or kyanik@northcoastmedia.net.

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