Friday, January 09, 2009

2008 saw record low number of miners killed

"The number of miners killed on the job in the United States fell to 51 in 2008, the fewest number of deaths since officials began keeping records nearly a century ago, according to preliminary data released by federal regulators Thursday," writes Roger Alford of The Associated Press. The historic low follows two years in which the number of mining fatalities rose, largely because of coal-mine disasters. Coal mines accounted for 29 of last year's deaths, compared to 34 in 2007. The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration reported that 22 deaths occured in other types of mines, down from 33 in 2007.

As beefed-up mine safety regulations helped bring down the number of mining deaths in 2008, it was also the first year that mine safety inspectors were able to complete all mandated mine reviews. MSHA added 360 inspectors and paid $10 million in overtime to complete the task. "Inspectors issued nearly 167,000 citations for safety violations in 2008, up from 130,000 the year before," writes Alford. "The federal agency fined mine operators $194 million in 2008 for safety violations. That was the largest amount of fines in the agency's history, up from $130 million in 2007."(Read more)

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