MSHA issues 2013 preliminary mine safety data

By |  April 13, 2014

MSHA released preliminary mine safety data for calendar year 2013. Although the overall injury rate improved compared with 2012 figures, fatality rates increased, driven by a high number of mining deaths in the 4th quarter of 2013 when 15 miners died.

“MSHA has implemented a number of actions to improve compliance, and it shows,” says Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. “The mining deaths, however, particularly in the 4th quarter of 2013, make clear that more needs done to protect our nation’s miners.”

The updated “Mine Safety and Health at a Glance” page features charts that include information on inspections; violations; number of mines and miners; and fatality and injury rates for coal, metal and nonmetal, and all mining.

In 2013, 42 mining deaths occurred — 20 at coal mines, a number unchanged from the previous year and 22 at metal and nonmetal mines, an increase of six from the previous year. Nine of the 22 metal and nonmetal deaths happened in the 4th quarter.

In general, mining fatality and injury rates have been on a downward trend, according to MSHA. Historic low fatality and injury rates were recorded 2011 and in 2012, fatality and injury rates fell even lower, followed by fiscal year 2013, with the lowest rates ever recorded.

For all mining, the preliminary 2013 fatal injury rate was 0.132 per 200,000 hours worked, an increase from 2012. The overall injury rate of 2.46 per 200,000 hours was a record low. For coal mining, the preliminary 2013 fatal injury rate was slightly higher than 2012, at .0176 fatal injuries per 200,000 hours worked. The overall injury rate of 3.08 per 200,000 hours was a record low. For metal and nonmetal mining, the fatal injury rate increased to .0108 per 200,000 hours worked. The overall injury rate of 2.11 per 200,000 hours worked was a record low.

The number of deaths of mine contractors dropped to a record low as well, with a total of four fatalities, compared with five the previous year. The fatal injury rate for contractors dropped to .0061.

For the third consecutive year, mining industry compliance continued to improve, MSHA says. Inspectors issued 118,759 citations and orders in 2013, a 15 percent decline from the previous year.

Actions MSHA has taken to ensure the safety of miners include: the special impact inspection initiative targeting troubled mines, the revised Pattern of Violations enforcement program to rein in chronic violators, the Rules to Live By initiative designed to prevent common types of mining deaths, and new examination rules requiring underground coal mines to “find and fix” hazards during mine examinations. Several stakeholder initiatives, such as improved guidance on guarding of equipment and fall protection at metal and nonmetal mines, have also led to significant improvements, MSHA says.

The number of mines in operation decreased slightly in 2013, from 14,093 to 13,708. The number of working miners also declined, from 387,878 to 374,069. MSHA will release a final version of the calendar year data in July.

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