Fact Sheet | Coal Mining | April 2010
Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities in the Coal Mining Industry
Coal mining is a relatively dangerous industry. Employees in coal mining are more likely to be killed or to incur a non-fatal injury or illness, and their injuries are more likely to be severe than workers in private industry as a whole, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Coal mining is part of the Mining sector along with other mining and extractive industries such as oil and gas. Coal mining is further divided into Bituminous coal underground mining, Bituminous coal and lignite surface mining, and Anthracite mining. Bituminous coal underground mining employs slightly more than half of all coal mining industry workers, but experiences a higher share of occupational injuries, illnesses, and fatalities.
The rate of fatal injuries in the coal mining industry in 2007 was 24.8 per 100,000 fulltime equivalent workers, nearly six times the rate for all private industry. This represents a 57 percent decrease from the 2006 rate of 58.1 fatalities per 100,000 fulltime equivalent workers. Fatal injuries in 2006 included the Sago mine disaster.
Rates of fatal occupational injury in 2007:
- Total private industry: 4.3 cases per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers
- Coal mining: 24.8 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers
There were 28 fatal injuries in coal mining in 2007, down from an average of 31 fatalities per year from 2003 to 2006. In 2007, 20 fatalities (or 71 percent of all fatalities in coal mining) were in bituminous coal underground mining. Contact with objects and equipment and transportation incidents were the most frequent fatal events with 18 and 5 fatal injuries respectively.
The rate of nonfatal injuries and illnesses in coal mining in 2008 was 4.4 cases per 100 full-time workers, 13 percent higher than for total private industry. In bituminous coal underground mining, the rate of nonfatal injuries and illnesses was 66 percent higher than that of all private industry. Bituminous and lignite surface mining had a rate that was 49 percent lower than all private industry. Anthracite had a rate 59 percent higher than all private industry, but a very small number of cases.
Total nonfatal injury and illness incidence rates in 2008:
- Total private industry: 3.9 cases per 100 full-time workers
- Coal mining: 4.4 per 100 full-time workers
- Bituminous coal underground mining: 6.5 per 100 full-time workers
- Bituminous coal and lignite surface mining: 2.0 per 100 full-time workers
- Anthracite mining: 6.2 per 100 full-time workers
More serious injuries and illnesses require days away from work to recuperate. In coal mining, the rate of injuries and illnesses with days away from work was 2.6 per 100 full-time workers in 2008, more than twice the rate for the private sector as a whole. The bituminous coal underground mining rate was 3.9 per 100 full-time workers, more than three times the total private industry rate.
Rates of injuries and illnesses with days away from work in 2008:
- Total private industry: 1.1 cases per 100 full-time workers
- Coal mining: 2.6 per 100 full-time workers
- Bituminous coal underground mining: 3.9 per 100 full-time workers
- Bituminous coal and lignite surface mining: 1.2 per 100 full-time workers
- Anthracite mining: 4.7 per 100 full-time workers
The number of median days away from work is a measure of the severity of injuries and illnesses. Workers in coal mining and bituminous coal underground mining were away from work due to occupational injuries or illnesses longer than the 8 median days experienced by all private industry workers. Fractures, which frequently require long recuperations, account for 19 percent of all injuries and illnesses in coal mining, compared to 8 percent in all private industry.
Median days away from work in 2008:
- Total private industry: 8 median days away from work
- Coal mining: 31 days
- Bituminous coal underground mining: 34 days
- Fractures, all private industry: 28 days
The Bureau of Labor Statistics data may differ from those reported by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) due to differences in reporting rules and definitions.
Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), April, 2010. Fatality data are from the 2007 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries. Final fatality data for 2008 will be available later this month. Nonfatal injury and illness data are from the 2008 Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses. Nonfatal injury and illness data for 2009 will be available in two upcoming releases scheduled for October and November 2010. More information is available from www.bls.gov/iif/ or by calling 202-691-6170.