Nine deaths in Q3 prove long way to go on safety

THIRD-quarter fatality data for the nation’s mining industry show further effort is required to save worker lives, says US Mine Safety and Health Administration head Joseph Main.

Donna Schmidt

From July 1 to September 30, federal officials reported nine deaths in the mining industry, with five from coal and four in metal/nonmetal mines. This total is two less than the third quarter of 2012, one less in each mining type.

Two coal miners died in machinery accidents, and one each were killed in powered haulage, fall of roof or rib and drowning incidents. Two metal/nonmetal miners died in events involving powered haulage, and one each died in machinery and falling/sliding material accidents.

Additionally, MSHA said, the number of miners killed year-to-date through September 30 was also less, 27 versus 30 last year.

“While actions undertaken by MSHA and the mining industry continue to move mine safety in the right direction, these deaths are a reminder that much more needs to be done to protect the nation’s miners,” Main said.

“We continue to see fatalities occur that are preventable.”

As he noted in the agency’s mid-year report of the industry’s fatalities, Main said that miners continue to die in accidents where proximity detection systems could prevent the situation from occurring.

“One coal miner was killed this quarter in an accident that could have been prevented through the use of proximity detection equipment,” he said.

As of September 30, 372 proximity detection systems have been installed on mining machines in underground coal mines including continuous mining machines, coal haulers and scoops.

Of those 372 proximity detection systems, 275 are on continuous miner units and 97 are on other mobile machines.

In metal/nonmetal operations, fatalities are continuing to occur when Lock Out Tag Out best practices could keep them from happening.

In fact, two of the fatalities in the third quarter, Main said, could have been prevented by disconnecting the power and assuring it is off, having each miner lock power sources in the safe position, using his or her personal safety lock and tag to prevent the power from being reenergized.

“Miners deserve a safe and healthful workplace, and assurances they can return home safe and healthy each day,” Main said.

“No miner should have to die on the job just to earn a paycheck. We must all work together to ensure that does not happen.”