The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) released preliminary data for 2012 that indicate the lowest fatality and injury rates in the history of U.S. mining. In 2012, the fatality rate was 0.0107 deaths per 200,000 hours worked. The rate of reported injuries was 2.56 per 200,000 hours worked. These reductions replace the prior year’s record historical low rates.
Although the number of mines in the U.S. decreased slightly (from 14,176 in 2011 to 14,058 in 2012), the number of miners increased from 381,209 to 387,671. A total of 35 miners died on the job in 2012, tying the record low set in 2009. The number of citations and orders MSHA issued fell from 157,052 in 2011 to 140,007 in 2012, an 11% decrease.
In coal mining, 19 miners died in on-the-job accidents in 2012, the second lowest number ever. The fatality rate was 0.0151 deaths per 200,000 hours worked, also the second lowest ever recorded. The rate of reported injuries was 3.15 per 200,000 hours worked, the lowest ever recorded. The number of citations and orders issued declined, from 93,451 in 2011 to 79,327 in 2012, a 15% reduction. The industry saw decreases in the number of mines (from 1,973 to 1,865) and in production (from 1,095 to 1,017 million tons) between 2011 and 2012. While the number of coal miners also decreased from a decades-long high of 143,437 in 2011 to 137,361 in 2012, it was the second highest for any year since 1994.
In metal and nonmetal mining, the record-low fatality rate was 0.0080 deaths per 200,000 hours worked. A total of 16 miners died in on-the-job accidents, equaling the record low set in 2011. The reported injury rate of 2.19 per 200,000 hours worked also was a record low. Citations and orders issued dropped from 63,601 in 2011 to 60,680 in 2012, a 5% reduction. While the number of metal and nonmetal mines remained steady in 2012, at 12,193, the number of miners increased from 237,772 in 2011 to 250,310 in 2012.