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Mining fatalities at lowest rate ever, according to report

Data regarding the mining industry was recently released by the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration. According to the report, 2012 was one of the safest years for miners working in the U.S. Detailed numbers indicated that there were 36 fatalities in the mining industry with two happening in Florida. Other states that saw fatalities due to workplace injuries included Montana with two, New York and Alabama with three a piece, Kentucky with five and West Virginia with seven.

Mining is often seen as more dangerous than other jobs, especially because of the abnormal working environment and arguably severe conditions that miners are often exposed to. The aforementioned fatalities consisted mostly of coal miners with 19 of the deaths. The remaining 17 fatalities occurred in nonmetal and metal mines.

The best year for mining safety was 2009 with 35 fatalities, making 2012 a top contender for the safest year based on the number of deaths alone. But analyzing the data a little further uncovers the fact that an upturn in the economy caused more mining to occur in 2012 than in 2009, meaning that more work hours were logged. Using this information, analysts found that 2012 had the lowest fatality rate on record. This was the second year in a row that the fatality rate declined to record lows.

An official with MSHA lauded the low numbers, but added that there is still more work to be done to make mining even safer. He made sure to note that nine supervisors passed away on the job last year, bringing questions to this piece of data. In addition, 12 of those that died were individuals that had less than a year of experience mining.

The reasons for the majority of the fatalities included rock falls, slips or falls, mishaps with machinery and accidents involving power haulage equipment. The four categories accounted for five deaths, five deaths, six deaths and ten deaths, respectively.

Source: Salt Lake Tribune, "Utah miners experience fatality-free year in 2012," Mike Gorrell, Jan. 31, 2013

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