Mining deaths fell to an all-time low in 2009, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Adminstration.
Deaths at metal and nonmetal mine deaths registered at 16 and coal mines had 18 deaths. A total of 34 people lost their lives in 2009, a drop from 52 last year.
This stat is somewhat misleading, for instance, because most of the Iron Range’s mines sat idle 2009. I’m sure there were similar cases across the U.S.
“This decline in numbers is a testament to the commitment of miners, mine operators, MSHA, the Department of Labor and other members of the mining community in making safety and health our top concern,” said Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. “At the same time, we are ever mindful that these numbers represent a tragic loss to the families and friends of the 34 victims. We will not rest until we reach zero fatalities in mining.”
According to Main, a key factor contributing to the record low number of deaths include enforcement of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 (which succeeded the 1969 Mine Act) and continued implementation of the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response (MINER) Act, enacted by Congress in 2006.
In 2009, MSHA assessed 173,000 civil penalties for violations of mine safety and health legal requirements. The dollar amount of assessed penalties totaled $140.7 million in 2009. Twenty-five flagrant violations were assessed at a total of $3.4 million.