Safety in Mining – It’s Come A Long Way


The mining industry has come a long way over the last 120 years. In years past, mining had little to no oversight and miners’ lives were put at risk, daily. The bright spot is that the mining industry in the U.S. has made serious headway in minimizing injuries and deaths. Safety has been moved to the forefront and everyone participates. Training, culture, and active participation all play a role in making safety and saving lives a priority.

Here are some encouraging stats:

  • From 1979-1999 metal and non-metal mining had 1,706 fatalities, according to MSHA.
  • From 2000-2018 for metal and non-metal, that number dropped to 476 fatalities.
  • Coal saw 1,644 fatalities between 1979 and 1999.
  • Coal dropped to 489 fatalities during the period between 2000 and 2018.

Fatalities are trending down in mining

2018 saw 15 fatalities in metal/non-metal mining; up two from 2017, but the second lowest year since MSHA started keeping track. Coal also did well in 2018, having the second-best year ever (tying with 2015) with 12 fatalities. In contrast, this is up from 2016, which saw 8 fatalities and is down from the 15 in 2017. To really slam home the safety improvement within the industry, coal had 3,243 fatalities in 1907 – the most in recorded history. In 1917, metal and non-metal had only 983.

It is a given fact that any fatality is unacceptable, but the strides the industry is making at reducing incidents is very encouraging.

Miners are essential

Those who have read my article “10 Interesting Mining Facts You Probably Didn’t Know,” understand the importance of the mining industry to our world. Miners are essential, and in my opinion, do not receive the recognition they deserve. With that said, a safety culture, while at times inconvenient and cumbersome, is there to ensure everyone gets home to their families at the end of the day.

This article is dedicated to the 128,597 souls we have lost in mining over the past 119 years since the U.S. started keeping records in 1900. Respect, love, and having each other’s backs = mining.