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April 13, 2016

2015 Safest Year Ever for U.S. Mine Operations

Preliminary data from the Mine Safety and Health Administration shows 2015 was the safest year in mining history, both in terms of number of deaths and injury and fatality rates. In 2015, 28 miners died in mining accidents, down from 45 in 2014. The fatal injury rate, expressed as reported injuries per 200,000 hours worked, was the lowest in mining history at 0.0096, down from 0.0144 in 2014 and 0.0110 in 2011 and 2012.

Mine Safety Highlights for 2015:

  • The fatal injury rate for coal mining was 0.0121, the lowest rate ever. The previous fatal injury rate low was set in 2011, during a period of peak employment in the coal industry.
  • In the metal and nonmetal mining industry, both the number of fatalities and the fatal injury rate were cut almost in half from the previous year’s figures. The fatal injury rate of 0.0085 was close to the all-time low of 0.0079 set in 2012. 
  • The all-injury rate dropped to a new low in 2015 at 2.28. Coal’s all-injury rate fell to 2.88, the first time it dropped below 3.0. Metal and nonmetal’s all-injury rate fell to a new low of 2.01.

The number of miners and mining operations were down in 2015, and accordingly, MSHA conducted fewer inspections. Even accounting for the decline in the number of mines, compliance improved, demonstrated by an 11 percent reduction in the number of citations and orders issued. Assessed penalties declined to about $62.3 million in 2015.

MSHA will release a final version of the calendar year data in July.

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