That record low total compares with 56 fatalities nationwide in 2003, the previous record low. There were 67 fatalities in 2002 and 72 on-the-job deaths in 2001.
"Though we are reassured to see the number of accidental mining fatalities decrease, this is a bittersweet reassurance because even one death is too many, and that is why are committed to helping the mining industry get this number to zero," said David G. Dye, acting assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health.
Preliminary information indicates coal mining fatalities dropped to 28 during 2004, compared with 30 during 2003 and 27 during 2002. The metal and non-metal mining industry recorded 26 fatalities on the job during 2004 -- the same total reported for that industry in 2003. These numbers were down from the 42 metal and non-metal mining deaths reported in 2002.
Of the 54 fatalities reported:
- Thirty-seven of those victims were killed in accidents on the surface at mining operations.
- Seventeen miners died in underground mining mishaps.
- Seventeen workers were killed in accidents involving powered haulage -- some type of moving vehicle at the mine site -- which was the leading cause of fatal mining accidents in the U.S. during 2004. Accidents involving machinery claimed the lives of 10 miners.
- Roof fall accidents in underground mines, a long-time safety nemesis for coal miners, killed three miners last year compared with two during 2003.
To view these statistics on the Internet, go to MSHA's Web site at www.msha.gov.