We have been reporting a number of stories about the rash of coal mining accidents that have plagued the industry in the early part of this year. Several fatal mine accidents occurred in rapid succession in West Virginia mines in February. The string of tragic accidents came after what mine safety officials say was a record low year for mine accidents in 2012.
The Mine Safety and Health Administration announced Monday preliminary findings on the rate of mine injuries and deaths in the mining industry in 2012. The agency says that the injury and death rate attributable to coal mining accidents reached record low numbers last year. The data reportedly is still being identified as preliminary numbers.
In technical statistical form, the agency says that the death rate in mining accidents in 2012 was .0107 deaths per 200,000 hours worked. The injury rate from mine accidents last year was 2.56 per 200,000 hours worked. The agency says that rates reached record low numbers. However, the rates are obviously not at zero-meaning that miners suffered injuries and other died in mining accident. Nineteen workers nationwide were killed in coal mining accidents, while 35 miners in the broader mining industry lost their lives on the job in 2012.
An assistant secretary of labor for mine safety acknowledges that the rates have not reached zero, saying, “While one death is too many, and there are still improvements needed to reduce injuries, it is important to take a moment and acknowledge progress towards those goals,” according to the State Journal.
The safety data must be taken in light of production and other factors. Officials say that the number of mines in operation and coal production levels decreased somewhat between 2011 and 2012. But, mine officials also say that the number of people working in coal mines in 2012 was at the highest level in 18 years.