ARLINGTON, VA – Preliminary data released by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration indicate that in 2016, 26 miners died in work-related accidents at the nation’s mines – down from 29 in 2015. The figure represents the lowest number of mining deaths ever recorded and only the second year that mining deaths dropped below 30. Currently, approximately 330,000 miners work in more than 13,000 U.S. mines.
Nine of the 26 fatalities occurred in coal mines – four in West Virginia, two in Kentucky, and one each in Alabama, Illinois, and Pennsylvania. The leading causes of death were powered haulage and machinery, which accounted for six of the deaths. In 2015, coal mining deaths fell to 12 – the previous historic low.
A total of 17 deaths were reported in metal and nonmetal mines in 2016. Mississippi and Texas led with two, followed by one each in Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, and Washington. The leading causes of death in these mines were machinery accidents and powered haulage, at four each. None of the 17 deaths occurred underground.
In 2015, 17 miners died in the metal and nonmetal sector.
MSHA has encouraged mine operators to put effective safety and health programs in place that address the specific conditions and hazards; conduct thorough examinations of the workplace to assure that the conditions and hazards leading to deaths and injuries are identified and fixed before they pose a danger to miners; and properly train their miners on hazards and conditions that could cause injury, illness or death as they perform their duties.