New Initiative to Address Increased Injuries, Fatalities among Less Experienced Miners

Published June 21, 2017

​A new initiative launched on Monday by MSHA aims to address the causes of and trends in recent coal mining fatalities. According to data compiled by the agency between October 2015 and March 2017, less experienced miners—both at a mine and at a specific occupation—suffer injuries at a higher rate than more experienced miners. MSHA found that miners with a year or less of experience at a mine suffered 903 injuries, compared to 418 among those who had worked at a mine between one and two years. And miners with job experience of one year or less suffered 603 injuries, compared to 409 among those with between one and two years’ worth of job experience. In order to better focus its resources, MSHA is encouraging mine operators to participate in the new initiative and provide the agency with information about miners hired within the previous year and those who have been in their current job for a year or less.

“Of the eight coal mining fatalities so far in 2017, seven involved miners with one year or less experience at the mine, and six involved miners with one year or less experience on the job,” said Patricia W. Silvey, deputy assistant secretary of labor. “We at MSHA will be working closely with mine operators and miners to eliminate these fatalities.”

As part of the initiative, staff from MSHA’s division of Coal Mine Safety and Health and training specialists from Educational Field and Small Mine Services will conduct visits to coal mines to review the mines’ approved training plans to ensure that all information is up to date and that the most recently approved plans are posted. Staff will also talk to and observe the work practices of less experienced miners to evaluate the effectiveness of task training programs and new miner training programs. MSHA staff are also tasked with identifying deficiencies and offering training suggestions, and working with mine operators to improve their training programs.

The training assistance initiative will run through Sept. 30, 2017.