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Safety Training Makes for Safer Mining
Date:5/14/2010

Study found severe injuries dropped after federally mandated worker education

FRIDAY, May 14 (HealthDay News) -- New research shows that a federal policy that requires miners to undergo safety education has reduced the incidence of permanently disabling injuries.

However, implementation of the regulation a decade ago did not reduce less severe injuries at stone, sand and gravel operations, according to a study in the July issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

The report comes soon after the disaster which killed 29 workers at a coal mine in West Virginia on April 5, the worst such disaster in the United States in 40 years.

Since that time, federal mining regulators have been calling for safety enhancements in the industry.

According to the Associated Press, the National Mining Association (which does not include the stone, sand and gravel operations observed in this study) said it has spent more than $1 billion on safety improvements since 2006, but indicated it is willing to do more.

The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has also said it would make safety upgrades.

Although the spotlight has traditionally focused on coal-mining accidents, other types of mining can be just as perilous, if not more so, the authors of this latest study stated.

For instance, the injury rate for miners at surface stone quarries in 2006 was five per 100 full-time workers, more than double the rate for surface bituminous coal miners.

Death rates in the mining industry in general are also exceptionally high -- about 25.6 per 100,000 workers compared to 17.6 per 100,000 in the transportation and warehousing industry and 11 in the construction industry.

The safety training regulation examined in this paper was established by the Mine Safety and Health Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Labor, in 1999 and put into effect in 2000.
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