2017 Mining Deaths Linked to Experience Level

February 14, 2018

According to the most recent Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) quarterly call, there were 15 coal-related fatalities and 13 metal/non-metal mining deaths in 2017.

One factor stood out among coal deaths, said Marcus Smith, of MSHA’s coal mine accident investigation division. He explained that nine deaths occurred among workers with one year or less of experience in a mine and seven deaths occurred among workers with one year or less of experience on the job.

“Discussing root causes of fatalities is important to preventing them from happening again,” said Smith.
Many of the accidents occurred during the operation of powered haulage or other machinery, and in slip and falls.

A sampling of incidents revealed that injuries occurred while crossing a moving conveyor belt, while not wearing a seatbelt and while operating heavy equipment.

According to Larry Trainor, of MSHA’s metal/nonmetal safety division, there were 13 deaths in metal and nonmetal mines. The deaths related to power haulage track coal mine figures. Because there were seven deaths that occurred while hauling, he emphasized the importance of drivers in smaller vehicles remembering to make eye contact and communicating with drivers of heavy equipment at a work site.

Assistant Secretary David Zatezalo offered a regulatory update on proximity detectors and the dust rule. He indicated that companies will need to have proximity detectors in place by the compliance deadline, March 16, 2018. With respect to the dust rule and the agency’s plan to study it, he said carbon and silica exposure is generally down; however, the agency will continue to monitor exposure on an ongoing basis in 2018.

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