US coal deaths at record low

THE 16 coal mining deaths in the US in 2014 marked the lowest number ever recorded in a year and were four fewer than in 2013.

Lou Caruana

The preliminary 2014 fatal injury rate as recorded by the US Mine Safety and Health Administration was lower than in 2013, at 0.0150 fatal injuries per 200,000 hours worked and the second lowest fatal rate recorded in mining history.

The overall operator-reported injury rate of 3.10 per 200,000 hours was a new record low, slightly below the 2013 rate of 3.11.

The number of mines in operation decreased in 2014, from 13,761 in 2013 to 13,588. The number of working miners also declined, from 374,522 to 365,406. Overall, 121,646 citations and orders were issued in 2014, a slight increase compared to 118,279 in 2013.

The increase is related to enhanced enforcement efforts aimed at addressing the increase in fatalities in the metal and nonmetal sector where citations and orders increased in 2014 by 7%.

MSHA has implemented a number of actions to improve compliance, including special impact inspections targeting troubled mines, the revised pattern of violations enforcement program to rein in chronic violators, the ‘Rules to live by’ initiative designed to prevent the most common types of mining deaths, new examination rules requiring underground coal mine operators to find and fix hazards during mine examinations, and improved guidance on equipment guarding and fall protection at metal and non-metal mines.

As a result, over the past five years (2010-2014), citations and orders have declined due to improved mine industry compliance, MSHA said.

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