MSHA explores factors involved in latest fatal accidents

By |  May 27, 2014

MSHA held a summit for training professionals May 22 to discuss causes of the 20 metal and nonmetal mining deaths that have occurred since October 2013. MSHA determined several causes were at the root of the accidents, including failure to provide training, conduct examinations, de-energize power, conduct pre-operational checks, maintain mobile equipment, and provide and wear personal protective equipment.

Also, MSHA shared comprehensive data on the fatalities to identify trends related to the accidents. For example, nine of the 20 fatal accidents that happened took place at sand-and-gravel operations (four), crushed stone operations (three) and sand operations (two). Six of the 20 who died were supervisors while seven were general laborers.

The operations involved are of various sizes, according to MSHA’s data. Six of the 20 fatal accidents occurred at operations with between one and 10 employees. Five occurred at operations with between 20 and 40 employees, and five more occurred at large operations with 100 or more employees.

One factor that seems to have played a role in many of the fatal accidents is experience – or a lack of experience. According to MSHA, 15 of the 20 fatal accidents involved miners with 10 or fewer years of experience at their mine. Eight of the 20 had three or fewer years of experience, and five had worked at their specific mine for less than one year.

Lack of experience with the specific activity that caused each miner’s death was a factor in many of the cases, as well. Six of the 20 had less than one year of experience at the task that caused their death, and 65 percent of those involved had five or fewer years of experience.

Kevin Yanik

About the Author:

Kevin Yanik is the editor-in-chief of Pit & Quarry magazine. Yanik can be reached at 216-706-3724 or

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