MSHA: U.S. Mining Deaths Reached Record Lows in 2015

Published January 13, 2016

Preliminary data from MSHA show that 28 miners died in work-related accidents last year, the lowest number of mining deaths ever recorded. Eleven of the fatalities occurred in coal mines, with powered haulage and machinery accidents accounting for six of those deaths. Metal and nonmetal mines had 17 fatalities, with machinery accidents reported as the leading cause of death, followed by falling materials.

Assistant Secretary of Labor for MSHA Joseph A. Main cited the agency’s efforts in compliance assistance, training, and outreach to the mining industry as actions that helped improve mine safety in 2015. Main acknowledged that the low number of mining deaths can be somewhat attributed to coal mine closures, but specifically mentioned MSHA’s special impact inspections to quickly address “problem mines” and its reformed Pattern of Violations (POV) procedure as enforcement tools that contributed to improved safety for mine workers.

“The POV reforms sent a message that chronic violator behavior would no longer be tolerated,” Main said previously. “That message translated into a dramatic reduction in the number of mines with chronic violation records. We have also seen significant improvements in violation and injury rates at mines served with a POV notice.”

For more information, see MSHA’s press release.