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MSHA: Mining deaths in 2015 hit record low

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Photo: andresr/iStockphoto

Arlington, VA – Last year, 28 miners died on the job – the lowest total on record, according to preliminary data from the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

It also was the first year that deaths numbered fewer than 30, MSHA announced. In comparison, 45 deaths occurred in 2014.

At metal and non-metal mines, 17 miners died, with machinery incidents (five deaths) and falling materials (four deaths) the top causes. Eleven deaths occurred at coal mines, with powered haulage and machinery incidents as the leading causes.

Strategic enforcement tools, compliance help, training and outreach have helped lower the number of deaths, MSHA administrator Joseph A. Main said in a press release. Enforcement tools include inspections that concentrate on unsafe mines, as well as the revamped Pattern of Violations procedure that focuses on chronic violators.

MSHA said it initiated “one of its most aggressive enforcement and outreach efforts” after three miners died in different incidents in August 2015. No metal and non-metal mining deaths occurred during the following 134 days, surpassing the previous record of 82 straight days without a death in 2010, according to the agency.

“While coal mine closures had some effect on the historic low number of mining deaths, actions by MSHA and the mining industry to improve mine safety have been a major factor,” Main said in the release.