What Are Some Statistics About Coal Mining Deaths?


Quick Answer

In the early 20th century, the average number of U.S. coal mining fatalities were 1,000 per year, decreasing to about 450 in the mid-20th century and to 140 in the 1970s. Since the 1970s, fatal coal mining injuries have decreased by 92 percent despite a 63 percent increase in coal production.

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Full Answer

Historically, the deadliest year in U.S. coal mining history was 1907 with 3,242 fatalities. The three worst coal mine disasters in U.S. history were the Monongah, West Virginia explosion in December 1907, claiming 362 lives; the Cherry, Illinois fire in November 1909, claiming 259 lives; and the Dawson, New Mexico explosion, claiming 263 lives.

Currently, the Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration employs about one coal mine inspector per 2.5 coal mines to advise and enforce the safety regulations of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 and the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act of 2006. These regulatory measures, along with improved mining technologies, have helped decrease the annual rates of mining deaths, measured as the number of deaths against hours worked. The incident rates of coal mining deaths have decreased from 0.2000 fatalities per 200,000 hours worked in 1970 to 0.0393 in 2000. 2011 saw the lowest incidence of fatalities at 0.0114.

In 2013, the coal mining industry experienced a fatal occupational injuries incident rate of 20.8 per 100,000 workers. Comparatively, the logging industry had an 86.5 incident rate; the fishing, hunting and trapping industry had a 63.4 and the crop production industry had a 22.9.

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