The deaths comprised 48 from coal operations and 23 from metal/nonmetal mines; 29 of the 71 were lost in the Upper Big Branch mine explosion last April. More than half of the total were contract workers.
“We can — and must — honor all of these miners by increasing our efforts to ensure safe and healthy workplaces for our nation’s miners,” MSHA assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health Joseph Main said.
Excluding the 29 UBB workers, the agency’s preliminary information indicated that more than half of the remaining 42 deaths involved violations of MSHA’s “Rules to Live By” standards and represented some of the most frequent causes of death recorded by federal officials in the last decade.
In 2010, six coal miners and two metal/nonmetal workers were fatally crushed by roof falls and rib rolls, and another six workers were killed while working near mining and haulage equipment. Falling material or moving objects at mines took another eight lives, including two in coal.
Another seven non-coal workers died in powered haulage accidents. Four workers at surface coal mines died in powered haulage accidents after losing control of their trucks and either striking another truck, turning over the truck, or going through a berm and over a highwall.
“We must all learn from these tragedies and act to prevent additional fatalities,” Main said.
“Fatalities are not inevitable. They can be prevented using effective safety and health management programs, workplace examinations for hazards, and effective and appropriate training so that miners recognize and understand the hazards, and how to control or eliminate them.”
MSHA’s “Rules to Live By” standards and prevention recommendations can be found at http://www.msha.gov/focuson/RulestoLiveByII/RulestoLiveByII.asp.