US mining fatalities up in 2013, Kentucky tops the list

The number of miners killed at work in the US increased last year, despite a number of improvements the Mining Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) claims to have pushed across the country.

According to data gathered by MSHA, a total of 42 miners died in work-related accidents in 2013, an increase of six over the previous year. Of those fatalities, 20 were in coal mines and 22 in metal/non-metal operations compared with 20 and 16, respectively, in 2012.

The most common causes of mining accidents in 2013 involved machinery and powered haulage equipment.

Kentucky had the most metal/non-metal mining deaths, with fatalities in the state totalling four for the year, and West Virgina registered the highest number of coal mining deaths, with six.

“Mining deaths are preventable, and those that occurred in 2013 are no exception,” said assistant secretary of labour for mine safety and health, Joseph A. Main. “The increased number of metal/non-metal deaths makes clear we need to do more to protect our nation’s miners,” he added.

One of the measures MSHA has undertaken to prevent mining deaths is increased surveillance and strategic enforcement through impact inspections at mines with troubling compliance histories.

The organization said it has also enhanced pattern of violations actions, launched special initiatives —such as “Rules to Live By,” which focuses attention on the most common causes of mining deaths— and increased outreach efforts with the mining community.