Three coal mining deaths in 19 days are ‘troubling,’ says MSHA chief

The death of a coal miner at Webster County Coal this week brings the total number of coal mining fatalities to three in the first 19 days of 2016, which the Mine Safety and Health Administration chief says is “troubling”.

MSHA Assistant Secretary Joseph A. Main said in a release, “In just the first three weeks of 2016, and after the safest year in mining history, the coal industry has experienced three fatalities in three separate mining accidents, the highest number of coal accidents to occur in the same time period since January 2006.”

On January 4, a 53 year old miner was killed when he became entangled in a moving underground conveyor in West Virginia.

On January 16, a 31 year old miner was killed when falling material pinned the victim to the mine floor in Pennsylvania.

And on January 19, 36 year old Nathan Phillips of White Plains, a miner at Webster County Coal LLC, was killed when he became pinned between a continuous mining machine and a coal rib.

In light of declining coal market conditions, Main stated we all need to be mindful that effective safety and health protections that safeguard our nation’s coal miners need to be in place every day at every mine in the country.

He said that all miners deserve to work their shifts and return home at the end of the day, safe and healthy. To that end, Main indicated the MSHA plans to ramp up its targeted enforcement, education and outreach efforts to respond to the troubling number of mining fatalities that have occurred so far this year. On Wednesday, the MSHA widely disseminated to industry stakeholders an alert on these deaths, emphasizing the need for continued vigilance in miner safety and health.

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