"Fatalities are preventable," said Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "Many mines operate every shift of every day, year in and year out, without a fatality or a lost-time injury."
Six of the first-quarter coal mining deaths occurred in the following categories: exploding vessels under pressure, drowning, handling materials, rib fall, machinery and electrical. Five of these fatalities – three of them involving mine supervisors – occurred on five consecutive weekends.
In addition, four mining deaths in the metal/nonmetal industry occurred from accidents involving powered haulage, a fall from an elevated walkway and, in two separate incidents, fall of material.
Main noted that fatalities could be prevented by using effective safety and health management programs in the workplace. He stressed that pre- and on-shift workplace examinations can identify and eliminate hazards.
"Providing effective and appropriate training will ensure that miners recognize and understand hazards and how to control or eliminate them," Main said. "No miner should have to die on the job just to earn a paycheck. We must all work together to ensure that does not happen."
An analysis of 2012's first quarter summary of mining fatalities is available on MSHA's website at http://www.msha.gov/fatals/summaries/summaries.asp, along with best practices to help mining operations avoid such fatalities.