US mine deaths at record low in 2002

THE number of miners killed on the job in the United States during 2002 fell to the lowest level on record for the second consecutive year.

Greg Tubby

The US Mine Safety and Health Administration said 67 miners died in accidents nationwide, five fewer than in 2001, the previous record-setting year.


The 67 deaths are the lowest number since the federal government began keeping records in 1910.


Fatalities in the US coal mining sector fell dramatically to 27 in 2002, compared with 42 in 2001. The previous coal low fatality record was 29, set in 1998.


Nationally, more than 100 coal miners died in mine accidents each year through the 1970s, but the numbers have declined since then.


In the metal and non-metal sector, US main fatalities totalled 40 in 2002, equalling the second-lowest figure on record, compared with 30 in 2001.


The majority on metal and non-metal fatal activities occurred during maintenance, repair and construction activity, Assistant Secretary of Labour for MSHA Dave Lauriski said.


He said MSHA had launched a number of outreach programs to assist mine operators and prevent these types of accidents.


Powered haulage equipment accidents, the leading cause of fatalities in the mining industry, contributed to 16 deaths in metal/non-metal mines and seven deaths in coal mines.


Bill Caylor, president of the Kentucky Coal Association, told Dow Jones the decrease in deaths in 2002 came despite an increase in mining activity.


"It's a combination of better training, better equipment, more conscientious oversight by regulatory agencies and more emphasis on safety by companies," he told the wire service.