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Underground and Surface Mining Facts - 2008 (HTML)

DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2011–162

Mining Operations

Data obtained from the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) indicated a total of 925 underground (6.2%) and 13,982 surface (93.8%) mining operations. [1]

Employees

A total of 59,922 employees, [2] or 62,565 full-time equivalent (FTE) [3] employees, were reported to MSHA as working at underground mining locations in 2008. This is in contrast to 332,797 employees (or 278,054 FTE employees) who were reported as working at surface locations. [4]

  • Surface work location employee hours accounted for 81.6% of all hours reported to MSHA, while 18.4% of employee hours were reported for underground work locations.
  • The majority of surface employee hours were for mine operator employees (78.3%) as opposed to independent contractor employees (21.7%).
  • Coal operators were the mining sector [5] reporting the most underground worker employee hours to MSHA (n=91,732,062; 73.3%).

Graph of the number of employee hours by underground and surface work locations, 1999-2008 (see data table below)

Click on the image to enlarge.

Data for the previous chart showing the number of employee hours (in millions) by underground and surface work locations and year
Commodity and Type
of Employer
1999200020012002200320042005200620072008
Surface 535.8 529.8 520.7 490.6 479.7 501.8 529.0 550.4 559.1 556.1
Underground 102.4 95.1 100.3 92.1 89.6 96.4 106.1 112.1 114.4 125.1

Fatalities

Of the 52 occupational mining fatalities reported to MSHA in 2008, 20 occurred at underground work locations, while 32 occurred at surface locations.

  • The fatality rate of 32.0 [95% confidence interval (CI): 19.5, 49.4] per 100,000 FTE employees was higher at underground work locations, compared to the rate of 12.9 [CI: 8.8, 18.3] for surface work locations.

Graph of the number of occupational mining fatalities by mine worker location in 2008 (see data table below)

Click on the image to enlarge.



Data for the previous pie chart showing the number and percent of fatalities by worker location
FatalitiesPercent
Underground 39
Surface 61
Data for the previous underground worker location pie chart showing the number and percent of fatalities by commodity
FatalitiesPercent
Coal Operator 60
Metal Operator 15
Nonmetal Operator 5
Stone Operator 0
Sand and Gravel Operator 0
Coal Contractor 15
Noncoal Contractor 0
Data for the previous surface worker location pie chart showing the number and percent of fatalities by commodity
FatalitiesPercent
Coal Operator 19
Metal Operator 6
Nonmetal Operator 3
Stone Operator 19
Sand and Gravel Operator 9
Coal Contractor 28
Noncoal Contractor 16

Nonfatal Lost-time Injuries

Within underground work locations, 2,600 nonfatal lost-time injuries were reported, resulting in 152,273 days lost from work. [6]  This compares to 4,748 nonfatal lost-time injuries attributed to surface workers resulting in 229,937 days lost from work.

  • The overall underground nonfatal lost-time injury rate was greater than the surface injury rate (4.2 [CI: 4.0, 4.3] vs. 1.9 [CI: 1.9, 2.0] per 100 FTE workers).
  • The most frequent classification of nonfatal lost-time injuries involved handling materials for both underground (n=734; 28.2%) and surface (n=1,566; 33.0%) work locations.
  • The back was the most frequently reported body part injured at both underground (n=384; 14.8%) and surface (n=856; 18.0%) work locations.

Chart of the distribution of nonfatal lost-time injuries by underground and surface work location and their rates, 2008 (see data table below)

Click on the image to enlarge.

Data for the previous chart showing the distribution of nonfatal lost-time injuries by underground and surface work locations and their rates by year
YearUndergroundSurfaceUnderground RateSurface Rate
1999 4,103 6,881 8.0 2.9
2000 3,854 6,985 8.1 3.0
2001 3,570 6,379 7.1 2.8
2002 3,306 6,052 7.2 2.8
2003 2,818 5,504 6.3 2.6
2004 2,753 5,386 5.7 2.4
2005 2,772 5,538 5.2 2.4
2006 2,739 5,249 4.9 2.1
2007 2,645 5,097 4.6 2.0
2008 2,600 4,748 4.2 1.9

 

Mining operations, 2008

Commodity and Type of EmployerUnderground Mining Operations [1]Surface Mining Operations [1]Total Mining Operations [1]
Coal 665 1,464 2,129
Metal 105 188 293
Nonmetal 44 676 720
Stone 111 4,522 4,633
Sand & Gravel Not applicable 7,132 7,132
Total 925 13,982 14,907

 

 

Contracting companies, 2008

Commodity and Type of EmployerNumber of Companies
Coal 3,467
Noncoal 6,128
Total 9,595

 

 

Employment characteristics, 2008

Commodity and Type of EmployerUnderground Employees [2]Surface Employees [2]Total Employees [2]Underground FTE Employees [3]Surface FTE Employees [3]Total FTE Employees [3]
Coal Operator 40,370 49,685 90,055 45,866 54,312 100,178
Metal Operator 5,844 33,282 39,126 5,842 34,840 40,682
Nonmetal Operator 2,579 20,454 23,033 2,725 20,534 23,260
Stone Operator 1,875 77,100 78,975 2,029 74,720 76,749
Sand & Gravel Operator Not applicable 42,307 42,307 Not applicable 33,343 33,343
Operator Total 50,668 222,828 273,496 56,462 217,750 274,212
Coal Contractor 6,262 37,510 43,772 4,105 22,216 26,321
Noncoal Contractor 2,992 72,459 75,451 1,998 38,088 40,086
Contractor Total 9,254 109,969 119,223 6,103 60,304 66,407
Total 59,922 332,797 392,719 62,565 278,054 340,620

 

 

Mining Occupational Fatalities (per 100,000 FTE employees), 2008

Commodity and Type of EmployerUnderground FatalitiesUnderground Fatality RateSurface FatalitiesSurface Fatality RateFatalitiesFatality Rate
Coal Operator 12 26.2 6 11.9 18 18.7
Metal Operator 3 Not calculated 2 Not calculated 5 13.8
Nonmetal Operator 1 Not calculated 1 Not calculated 2 Not calculated
Stone Operator 1 Not calculated 6 9.4 7 10.6
Sand & Gravel Operator Not applicable Not applicable 3 Not calculated 3 Not calculated
Operator Total 17 30.1 18 9.4 35 14.2
Coal Contractor 3 Not calculated 9 43.4 12 48.3
Noncoal Contractor 0 Not calculated 5 13.9 5 13.2
Contractor Total 3 Not calculated 14 24.7 17 27.1
Total 20 32.0 32 12.9 52 16.8

 

 

Nonfatal Lost-time Injuries (per 100 FTE employees), 2008

Commodity and Type of EmployerUnderground InjuriesUnderground Injury RateSurface InjuriesSurface Injury RateInjuriesInjury Rate
Coal Operator 2,103 4.6 768 1.5 2,871 3.0
Metal Operator 163 2.8 649 2.1 812 2.2
Nonmetal Operator 95 3.5 412 2.4 507 2.5
Stone Operator 33 1.6 1,593 2.5 1,626 2.5
Sand & Gravel Operator Not applicable Not applicable 550 1.9 550 1.9
Operator Total 2,394 4.2 3,972 2.1 6,366 2.6
Coal Contractor 168 4.1 313 1.5 481 1.9
Noncoal Contractor 38 1.9 463 1.3 501 1.3
Contractor Total 206 3.4 776 1.4 982 1.6
Total 2,600 4.2 4,748 1.9 7,348 2.4

Not calculated when N is less than 5.    95% CI for rates reported above.    Totals may not sum due to independent rounding.

Data source: Publicly released employment and accident/injury/illness data collected by MSHA under 30 CFR 50.

Notes: All analyses of accident data exclude office employees. Occupational fatalities exclude all cases under 17 years of age. Further statistical methodology is available on the NIOSH Internet.  Caution should be used when interpreting rates based on a small number of events.

  1. Mines at which only independent contractors were working did not show any employment and were not counted.
  2. Average number of employees working at individual mines during calendar quarters of active operations (includes office workers).
  3. Full-time equivalent employees computed using reported employee hours (2,000 hours = 1 FTE).
  4. Surface work locations include surface operations at underground mines, surface operations (strip or open pit), auger, culm banks, dredge, other surface operations, independent shops and yards, and mills or preparation plants.
  5. Mining sectors include coal operators, metal operators, nonmetal operators, stone operators, sand and gravel operators, coal contractors, and noncoal contractors.
  6. Includes actual days away from work and/or days of restricted work activity. For permanently disabling injuries only, statutory days charged by MSHA were used if they exceeded the total lost workdays.

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