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D.O.L. News Release [USDL 01-209]
U.S. Department of Labor/Office of Public Affairs
Washington, D.C.
For Immediate Release: July 5, 2001
Contact: Seth Becker
Phone: (202) 693-4650

Released Wednesday, July 05, 2001

CHAO CHALLENGES MINING COMMUNITY TO REDUCE ACCIDENTS

WASHINGTON -- Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao today challenged the mining community to reduce accident rates, building on recent successes in making mines safer.

Fatal-injury rates in the mining industry dipped in the first quarter of 2001 compared with the same period in 2000, according to new data released by the Department of Labor Mine Safety and Health Administration. Fatal injuries in coal mining declined to 0.021 per 200,000 employee-hours worked compared with 0.033 in the first quarter of 2000. In the metal and nonmetal mining sector, fatal injuries dropped to 0.015 per 200,000 employee hours compared with 0.018 in the first quarter of 2000.

"The first quarter of this year shows that the trend is in the right direction," Chao said. "But I want to challenge all of us to do even more. We can and must reduce mining deaths still further."

Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health Dave D. Lauriski emphasized that recent successes are only a first step.

"I have put forward a challenge to reduce mining industry fatalities by 15 percent each year over the next four years and to reduce the lost-time injury rate by 50 percent by 2005," Lauriski said. "That will require the commitment and help of everyone who works in mining."

In the first quarter of 2001, five coal miners died on the job compared with eight in the same period of 2000. Seven metal and nonmetal miners lost their lives compared with nine in the same period of 2000. Mining fatalities totaled 86 last year; 38 in coal mining and 48 in metal and nonmetal mining.

As of July 2nd, 10 deaths have occurred this year in coal mines compared with 16 as of the same date last year. In metal and nonmetal mining during the same period, there have been 18 fatalities this year compared with 26 as of the same date a year ago.

The rate for nonfatal coal mining injuries involving lost work time through the first quarter of 2001 was 3.93 injuries per 200,000 employee-hours worked, down from 4.35 in the same period of 2000 and 4.76 in all of 2000. The rate for all types of injuries in coal mining was 5.31 per 200,000 employee-hours worked. This compared with 5.72 for the same period of 2000 and 6.36 for all of 2000.

Coal miners worked a total of 48.1 million reported hours through the first quarter of 2001 compared with 48.6 million for the same period of 2000. Average reported employment in coal mines through the first quarter of 2001 was 92,399 compared with 94,477 through the first quarter of 2000. Coal mines reported producing 272 million tons of coal through March of 2001, an increase from 267.5 million tons produced during the same period of 2000.

In metal and nonmetal mining, the rate of lost-time injuries was 2.73 through the first quarter of 2001 compared with 2.62 for the same period of 2000 and 2.77 for all of 2000. The rate of all injuries in metal and nonmetal mining was 4.04 in January-March of 2001 compared with 4.16 for the same period last year and 4.31 for all of 2000.

Metal and nonmetal mine operators reported a total of 95.5 million hours through March of 2001 compared with 99.5 million for the same period of 2000. Average reported employment totaled 198,711 compared with 206,307 in the first quarter of 2000.

Data for 2001 are preliminary and subject to change. Additional information is available on MSHA's Web site at www.msha.gov or in the forthcoming "Mine Injuries and Worktime, Quarterly" for January-March 2001.