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Mining Safety Shifts Focus After Rise In Fatalities

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) launched the “Voice in The Workplace” campaign in 2014 to increase safety enforcement by miners themselves. MSHA is working to refocus the agency on preventing mining deaths at metal/nonmetal mines. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there were 135 mining fatalities between 2013 and 2017. Additionally, there were 4,035 injuries sustained by miners in 2017 alone. The hope of this initiative is that it will provide miners with the platform they deserve to voice safety concerns at work.

Mining Fatalities by The Numbers

Thanks to the work done by the MSHA, mining-related deaths have seen a sharp decline. While mining fatalities have been decreasing every decade since the early 20th century (with some exceptions). However, even in recent years, there has been sharp reductions in miner death or injury.

As the numbers show, mining-related deaths have decreased by nearly 50% since the launch of “Voice in the Workplace":

  • 2011: 16 deaths
  • 2012: 16 deaths
  • 2013: 22 deaths
  • 2014: 30 deaths
  • 2015: 17 deaths
  • 2016: 17 deaths

Coal Mining Deaths Decreasing During the Same Time

MSHA head Joe Main stated that the decrease in fatalities in metal/nonmetal mines can be credited to “the agency’s use of strategic enforcement tools, including targeted impact inspections that address problem mines quickly.” He also applauded improved compliance by mining companies throughout the industry.

During the launch of “Voice in the Workplace,” Main said that the MSHA will be “enlisting the support of the entire mining industry to help us refocus” on preventing mining fatalities. To facilitate this goal, he launched two new campaigns: Walk & Talk and a tool called the “Rules to Live By” Calculator.

Walk & Talk Inspections

The MSHA conducted inspections to focus their attention on the mining occupations that suffered the most fatalities: truck drivers, contractors, and supervisors. MSHA will continue to perform these inspections, and mine operators should expect them to maintain their focus on these high-risk occupations.

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