A total of 42 miners died in work-related accidents in U.S. mines during 2013, an increase from the 36 miners who died in 2012, according to preliminary data released by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). While mining fatalities occurred at a record low rate for the first three quarters of 2013, during the fourth quarter of 2013, six coal miners and nine metal/nonmetal miners died in mining accidents, a significant increase from the same period in 2012, when four coal miners and two metal/nonmetal miners died.

Last year, there were 20 coal mining and 22 metal/nonmetal mining fatalities, compared with 20 and 16, respectively, in 2012. Four mining deaths in 2013 involved contractors (two each in coal and metal/nonmetal), marking the fewest number of contractor deaths since MSHA began maintaining contractor data in 1983. A total of 14 coal mining deaths occurred underground and six occurred at surface operations. In metal/nonmetal mining, five deaths occurred underground, and 17 occurred at surface operations. The most common causes of mining accidents in 2013 involved machinery and powered haulage equipment.

Preliminary fatality and injury rate data for the first three quarters of 2013 were 0.0112 and 2.45, respectively, below the rates for the same period in 2012, which marked the lowest such rates recorded in a calendar year. [Note: Rates are determined by the number of fatalities or injuries per 200,000 hours worked. Rates for calendar year 2013, which are calculated using operator-reported employment hours, are not yet available.]

For fiscal year 2013 (October 1, 2012, through September 30, 2013), preliminary data indicate a record-low fatality rate of 0.0104 and injury rate of 2.42, as well as the fewest number of mining deaths at 33.