Mining by the Numbers

Safety Falters as Oversight Dwindles

The Bush administration’s neglect has led to an increasingly unsafe mining industry, but a recent report shows how to improve safety.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee met today to discuss recent mine disasters, including the Crandall Canyon mine collapse in Utah, and how to improve mine safety.

The Bush administration has curtailed safety standards and inspections for the mining industry, already one of the most dangerous industries in the United States. Miners are now paying for this record of neglect, as Reece Rushing explains in his recent report, “Safeguarding the American People: The Progressive Vision vs. the Bush Record.”

This report offers a different course. In particular, government must identify public risks and vulnerabilities, adopt policies to prevent public harm, provide oversight to ensure that laws and standards are followed, and make decisions out in the open to ensure accountability for results. In the area of mine safety, this clearly isn’t happening. Just check out the numbers below.

A Fatal Occupation

2: The mining industry’s rank among occupations with the highest workplace fatalities.

47: The number of coal miners killed on the job in 2006, the most in a single year in more than a decade.

A Record of Neglect

$6 million: Amount President Bush proposed to cut the Mine Safety and Health Administration enforcement budget by in FY2004.

325: Number of MSHA citations given to the Crandall Canyon, UT mine in 2004.

116: Number of MSHA citations given to Crandall Canyon that were classified as "significant and substantial," posing a high risk of serious injury or illness.

$936: Amount the MSHA fined Crandall Canyon in 2005 for not adding at least two emergency escape routes to the mine, a particularly high-risk infraction.

$60: Amount the MSHA fined Crandall Canyon in 2006 when the mine still failed to install at least two emergency escape routes.

6: Number of people killed in the Crandall Canyon mine collapse last month. Three others were killed in the rescue effort.

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