The United States Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has released a preliminary report indicating the work-related deaths of 37 miners in 2011. Of the deaths, 21 occurred at coal mines and 16 occurred at metal/non-metal mines. This statistic is nearly half of those reported in 2010 (71 reported deaths). This is the second-lowest reported number of deaths since 1910.
Of the fatalities, 12 took place at surface coal mines, 11 at surface non-mental/metal mines, nine in coal mines beneath the ground, and five at underground metal/non-metal mines. The leading cause of mine deaths in 2011 was machinery-related deaths, contributing to nine deaths. The larger coal-producing states such as Alabama, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Utah reported no mine-related deaths for the year.
The MSHA, in an effort to limit and prevent mine-related fatalities, has increased mining surveillance measures and inspection at underperforming mines, launched safety initiatives requiring mining operations to focus on common causes of fatalities, and best-practice initiatives aimed at giving guidance and understanding of compliance responsibilities.
By the numbers, in 2011, the highest number of mine deaths occurred in Kentucky (eight deaths), West Virginia (six deaths), and Ohio (three deaths). Alaska, Idaho, and Minnesota reported two deaths each. States reporting one death include Arizona, Colorado, Florida, New York, Iowa, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming.