US coal mine deaths down

Staff Reporter

COAL mining deaths accounted for more than a third of total US mining industry fatalities in 1998, according to preliminary figures released by the country’s Mine Safety and Health Administration body. MSHA said 22 of the 29 coal mining fatalities in 1998 occurred at underground mines. The 1998 figure compared with 30 in 1997 and 39 in 1996.

Deaths in metal/non-metal mines, though dropping from 61 in 1997 to 51 in 1998 were “still too high”, according to the US Department of Labor’s assistant secretary of labour for mine safety and health, J. Davitt McAteer.

The total number of mine fatalities was the lowest ever based on records dating back to 1869, with the previous lowest total of 85 deaths recorded in 1994. Roof falls were the main cause of coal industry fatalities. They were associated with 13 deaths in the sector.