(USA) -- The mining industry has hit a major milestone: 2009 had the fewest number of mining fatalities — 34 — ever recorded in the United States.
That was down from the previous low of 52 in 2008.
While mining safety has progressed, the families of those 34 miners who died on the job last year still lost a valuable member of their families.
Mining is a hazardous occupation. Of those 34 deaths, 18 occurred in coal mines and 16 were in gold, copper or other types of mines. Most involved truck accidents on mine property. Some resulted from rock falls and workers’ being struck by machinery.
Those numbers are encouraging, but federal Mine Safety and Health Administration Assistant Secretary Joseph Main said he won’t be satisfied until no miners are killed on the job.
That is the attitude to take. Workers in the mining industry and their families have too long endured the threat of disease and accidental death.
The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration last month launched a comprehensive program to end new cases of black lung. MSHA last year completed 100 percent of its mandated inspections of all surface and underground mines for only the second time ever.
It is that concentrated effort that will eliminate deaths in mining. Miners should never have to sacrifice their lives for their livelihood.