Last year was the safest yet in our country’s history of mining. That good news comes from the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

Joseph Main, the Assistant Secretary of Labor who oversees the MSHA credits “intensive efforts by MSHA and its stakeholders that have led to mine site compliance improvements, a reduction of chronic violators, historic low levels of respirable coal dust and silica” for the drop injuries and fatalities in all types of mining. Main is a Pennsylvania native who began his own career as a coal miner nearly 50 years ago,

In addition to the record low injury and death rates last year, the preliminary data shows that MSHA citations and orders dropped 11 percent. Penalties fell to $62.3 million. About 2 percent of penalties for the year still need to be assessed. The final mine safety data for 2015 will be released in July.

Of course, any mining death is one too many. However, things seem to be headed in the right direction. Last year, 28 people perished in mining accidents. That’s a rate of 0.0096. The prior year, there were 45 fatalities.

Meanwhile, the injury rate among coal miners fell below 3.0 for the first time (to 2.88). The injury rate for mental and nonmetal mining reached a historic low of 2.01.

Mining is a dangerous line of work, but one that many Pennsylvania families have been part of for generations. Mine owners and managers owe their employees the safest conditions possible to help prevent not only injuries, but long-term medical conditions. Those who believe that an injury or illness was caused by lack of safety precautions should seek the guidance of a Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney to help ensure that their rights are protected.

Source: Occupational Health and Safety, “2015 Safest Year Yet for U.S. Mining,” April 08, 2016