The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has told representatives of the non-coal sector of mining that it will use every means at its disposal to reverse a trend in which 19 miners have been killed over the last seven months. Eleven of those deaths occurred since the first of the year.
Calling the rise in fatalities in the Metal/Non-Metal (M/NM) sector “disturbing,” MSHA Assistant Secretary Joe Main said, "We plan to engage all of our tools: enforcement, education and training, and technical support to respond to this trend."
The agency’s review of the fatal accidents has led it to conclude that shortcomings exist in the quality of mining training and in miners’ safety examinations of their workplaces. “MSHA will be paying close attention to these deficiencies, as well as the types of hazards and conditions that have led to these deaths, during mine inspections,” Main warned.
MSHA arranged the stakeholders’ meeting to call attention to the problem. At the session, the agency reviewed 18 M/NM fatalities that have occurred since October 1, 2013. The death of a Nevada gypsum mine co-owner May 1, who was killed in a vehicle tip over accident, was excluded because MSHA’s summary extended only through April 30.
The deaths have occurred at crushed stone, sand and gravel, silver, cement, lime, gold, granite, clay and iron ore mining operations in 12 states across the country. Six deaths occurred at underground mines and 12 at surface mines. Two double-fatality accidents occurred at mines employing more than 100 workers. Five supervisors and six miners/laborers were among those who died. Four of the fatalities were contract workers.
Nine coal miners also have perished over the seven- month period. Of the three killed this year, two died in machinery accidents and the third victim, a 20-year-old laborer, died when he was struck by a feeder.
MSHA identified 14 standards among the six fatal M/NM accidents it has investigated so far that contributed to the incidents, including two involving task training. Eight of the standards are part of the agency’s “Rules to Live By” fatality prevention program.