Workers in the mining industry face a higher risk of fatal injury

Injuries, illnesses, and fatal injuries in mining in 2010

By Sean Smith, Office of Compensation and Working Conditions

Fatal injuries in the mining industry declined throughout the 20th century. From 1900 to 1945 there were more than 1,000 fatal injuries every year in coal mining alone, according to the U.S. Department of Labor Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA).1 Since the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) began collecting fatal injury data in 1992, there have been no more than 60 fatal injuries in coal mining in any given year, and fewer than 200 fatal injuries per year for all workers in the mining industry as a whole. Despite such improvements, fatal injury rates in mining remain more than four times higher than the average for all industries, and high-profile accidents continue to make headlines. The explosion in the Upper Big Branch coal mine in West Virginia in April 2010 took the lives of 29 workers, which was more than the total number of fatal injuries in coal mining in 2009.2 Also in April 2010, an explosion and fire on the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico killed 11 workers. In total, there were 172 fatal work injuries in the mining industry during 2010.

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