miningThe eight miners who died in accidents in U.S. mines from July 1 to Sept. 30 are “a harsh reminder of why mines must be vigilant in ensuring effective safety programs and fostering a culture of safety first,” Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health Joseph A. Main said.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) this week released a summary of U.S. mining deaths that occurred during the third quarter of 2014. The fatalities included five in metal and nonmetal mining and three in coal mining. In that same period in 2013, nine miners died in mining accidents and bring the number of U.S. mining deaths to a total of 30 in the first three quarters of 2014.

Electrical accident, fatal fall

Of the five fatalities in metal and nonmetal mining, two miners died in powered haulage accidents when they were pinned by a front-end loader and a forklift respectively, one miner died in an electrical accident, one died as a result of falling material and one was killed in a fall. One of the fatalities was a contractor, and two were supervisors.

All of the deaths occurred on the surface. These types of accidents could be prevented following best practices for blocking against hazardous motion, using personal protection equipment and following lockout-tagout procedures.

Of the three fatalities in coal mining, one miner died in an electrical accident underground, another was killed in a machinery accident at a surface operation, and the third died as a result of a powered haulage accident when he was crushed by diesel equipment underground.

Mine safety initiatives

MSHA has launched a number of initiatives in recent years to assist mine operators with mine health and safety and to identify mines with chronic health and safety problems for enforcement actions. “We believe those efforts, along with initiatives by the mining industry, are making a difference, but clearly more needs to be done,” Main said.

The MSHA commemorated the second annual Mine Rescue Day yesterday, during a meeting of the Holmes Mine Rescue Association at the National Mine Health and Safety Academy in Beaver, West Virginia.

Summaries of the accidents, and lists of best practices that might have prevented them, are available on MSHA’s website, along with an analysis of third-quarter mining fatalities.