Miners are making significant safety strides, decreasing fatalities over the last 35 years, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA).
MSHA began operations in 1978, operating under the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977. The organization works to reduce injuries, illnesses and death through strong enforcement as well as active outreach, education and training, and technical support to the mining industry. Since its inception, 242 miners have died in mining accidents.
The new report details fatality and injury rates for coal, metal and nonmetal, and all mining from 1978 to 2014. The data show that while the 2014 overall operator-reported injury rate improved from the prior year to a historic low, the number of mining deaths and fatality rates increased, driven by a high number of mining deaths in the metal and nonmetal sector.
In 2014, there were 44 mining deaths — an increase of two from the previous year. Of those deaths, 16 occurred at coal mines and 28 at metal and nonmetal mines and facilities. 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.