IT'S A dangerous job, but no one has to lose their life doing it.
That's the stance of the U.S. Labor Department, which this past week released the Mine Safety and Health Administration's midyear summary of mining deaths in the United States.
During the first half of 2011, eight miners were killed in coal mining operations. Of those eight coal miners, three of their deaths resulted from machinery accidents. Two miners died in rib collapse accidents, two others were killed in powered haulage accidents, and one miner was killed as a result of an accidental fall. Two of the eight fatalities involved contractors.
Even though the number of mining deaths for the first half of this year is at an all-time low, one mining death is still one too many, according to Joseph Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health.
Fatalities can be prevented, Main stressed, stating that they are not an "inevitable byproduct of mining."
Effective health and safety programs, training of miners and proper workplace examinations can identify and eliminate the hazards that kill and injure miners, according to Main. Mine operators are well aware that they must take responsibility for the health and safety conditions in their mines to prevent the kind of tragedies we have seen on too many occasions over the years in the mining industry.
Coal mining has been the economic backbone of the Ohio Valley for decades. It's not just good fortune that mining tragedies - like the ones that have made national and international news in recent years - have not occurred at our area mines in many years. MSHA enforces safety initiatives, and our area operators take them seriously.
No miners should have to die on the job just to earn a paycheck, Main said. We, like MSHA and those at our local coal mine operations, want all miners to go home safe and healthy at the end of each shift.