Local/Regional News
7:42 am
Fri July 20, 2012

Federal Authorities Report 19 Mine Deaths So Far In 2012

CHARLESTON, W.Va.  -- Nineteen mining deaths occurred during the first six months of the year, the second-lowest midyear toll ever recorded, federal regulators said Thursday.  Fourteen miners died during the same period last year.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration said 10 of this year's deaths occurred in coal mines, including five on consecutive weekends.

Three of the 10 deaths resulted from slips or falls, and two occurred in rib falls, or partial collapses of the underground mine walls. One each came from vessels exploding under pressure, drowning, handling materials, and machinery and electrical.

MSHA chief Joe Main stressed that the deaths were preventable.

MSHA has been cracking down on operators with a history of safety violations. The so-called impact inspections began after 29 miners died in April 2010 at Massey Energy's Upper Big Branch mine in southern West Virginia.

"Many mines operate every shift of every day, year in and year out, without a fatality or a lost-time injury," Main said. "Mining workplaces can and must be made safe for all miners."

Nine deaths occurred in metal and nonmetal mines. Four of those occurred in power-haulage accidents, two involved a falling face, rib or highwall, and one each was linked to machinery, falling material and someone falling.