US fatality statistics reveal black Friday

THE end of the working week has been shown as the most deadly time in a US coal mine with more workers dying on Friday this year than any other day, a review of 2008 fatality statistics has shown.

Donna Schmidt

The review reflected some trends that can be used in preventing similar incidents in the New Year.


According to the US Mine Safety and Health Administration, 28 fatalities have been marked across coal – surface and underground – this year. Broken down by type, 15 occurred underground, and nine occurred on a Friday.


When reviewed by fatality classification, 10 of the deaths were directly related to powered haulage. Machinery was the classified cause of nine others.


A significant number of this year’s deaths were of workers without much mining experience at their home mine or background doing the specific job that was involved in his death. Twelve of 2008’s 28 coal deaths were of miners that had been at their mine less than one year, and nine had been doing their specific job for less than 12 months.


However, 13 mining veterans lost their lives on the job. All had been miners for a decade or longer.


While most workers died immediately or shortly following their incident, two individuals were seriously injured sand subsequently passed away as a result of their trauma. The first was an underground accident at Century Operations’ Butchers Brach complex in Kentucky, where the accident occurred July 17 and death was marked July 25.


The second serious injury was reported September 19 at Massey Energy’s No. 1 surface, a highwall operation, and the worker died a few weeks later on October 4. The events were classified by MSHA as powered haulage and machinery, respectively.


By state, West Virginia suffered the most coal mining fatalities this year with eight. Kentucky and Pennsylvania were close behind with seven and five, respectively.


Alabama and Virginia each had two deaths in 2008, and single fatalities were marked in the states of Texas, Indiana, Illinois and Wyoming.