ELKO — Fatalities over 2017 in the U.S. metal/nonmetal mining industry totaled 13, an all-time low, according to the Mine Safety and Health Administration.
“Every number, no matter how small, represents a person and their family – as an industry, we don’t forget the loss of our colleagues,” the Nevada Mining Association stated. “2017’s safety statistics are a noteworthy accomplishment, especially given the millions of hours miners in Nevada and throughout the U.S. worked in the hard rock mining industry, and serve to intensify our focus on making sure every miner goes home safely every day.”
Ten years ago, there were 33 fatalities; and 100 years ago, there were 983 fatalities, MSHA reports. In 2015 and 2016, 17 fatalities occurred each year, according to a Dec. 31, 2017 report.
The metal/nonmetal industry includes mills, sand and gravel, surface and underground operations for metal, nonmetal and stone.
Of last year’s metal/nonmetal deaths, one occurred underground because of fall of roof or back. The remaining deaths happened on the surface, with six on powered haulage, three because of falls/slide of material, two because of machinery and one because of electrical. Two of the metal/nonmetal deaths occurred in Nevada in 2017.
“It is important for miners to stay vigilant because there is rarely just one person responsible for an injury or death,” said Dr. Thomas “Ted” Boyce, president and senior consultant with the Center for Behavioral Safety LLC. “When a mine operator develops a culture where individual workers feel empowered to point out problems and raise concerns about each other’s safety AND management judiciously acts on these concerns, injuries and deaths are prevented.”
The U.S. coal mining sector lost 15 people to fatal accidents in 2017, up from eight the previous year.