Mining Fatalities More Than Doubled in 2010

WASHINGTON—The number of miners who died on the job in the U.S. more than doubled in 2010, with 29 of the fatalities occurring at a Massey Energy Co. coal mine in West Virginia, the Labor Department said Thursday.

Seventy-one miners died last year, compared with 34 miners in 2009. The department said that more than half the workers died in coal mines, while the remainder died in metal and nonmetal operations. The miners died from explosions, roof falls and powered haulage accidents.

In April, 29 miners died after an explosion at Massey’s Upper Big Branch mine in Montcoal, W.Va.

The 2010 fatalities were the highest since 2006, when 73 workers died, department statistics showed.

Mining companies are studying accident trends and trying to determine whether incidents that were once nearly eliminated are reappearing, said National Mining Association spokeswoman Carol Raulston. Company executives are also reviewing safety practices and training.

“Following 2009, which was the safest year in U.S. mining history, 2010 has prompted deep concern,” Ms. Raulston said.

The Labor Department’s Mine Safety and Health Administration said it is working to reduce deaths with more aggressive inspections and standards.

“No miners should have to die on the job just to earn a paycheck,” said Joseph Main, assistant secretary of Labor for mine safety and health.


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