ARLINGTON, VA (WOWK) the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) says 29 mining fatalities were reported in 2020.
This makes the sixth consecutive year mining fatalities were below 30, and a historic low of only five of those happening in coal mines.
According to the MSHA, three deaths occurred in Kentucky and Louisiana; two each in West Virginia, Arizona, California, Georgia, Iowa and Texas; and one each in Ohio, Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Washington.
The MSHA says powered haulage deaths dropped to 21% in 2020 and conveyor-related deaths have dropped in recent years from four in 2017 to one this past year. In 2017 and 2018, about half of all mining deaths resulted from powered haulage accidents. It was also the first year in MSHA history with no seatbelt-related deaths. The percentage of contractor deaths also dropped in 2020.
“In 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration focused on improving safety in several areas, including falls from height and truck-loading operations,” said Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health David G. Zatezalo. “We also focused on chronic problem areas, such as disproportionate accidents among contractors and inexperienced miners. In 2019, contractor deaths accounted for 41% of deaths at mines. In 2020, they were 28%.”
The MSHA is required to inspect all underground mines at least four times per year and all surface mines at least twice each year. Between March 1 and Dec. 31, the organization issued 195 citations for sanitary conditions that could have been contributed to coronavirus, however last year, the mining industry still achieved its highest compliance with MSHA’s health standards, which the organization says protect the long-term health of miners. The MSHA also reported all-time-low average concentrations of respirable dust and quartz in underground mines
The mining industry achieved its highest compliance with MSHA’s health standards, which protect the long-term health of miners. The year 2020 saw all-time-low average concentrations of respirable dust and respirable quartz in underground coal mines, as well as exposure to dust and quartz for miners at highest risk of overexposure to respirable dust.
According to the MSHA, approximately 230,000 miners work in 11,500 metal/nonmetal mines throughout the U.S., and 64,000 miners work in 1,000 coal mines across the country.