The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) defines an independent contractor as "any person, partnership, corporation, subsidiary of a corporation, firm, association or other organization that contracts to perform services or construction at a mine." Contractors that perform specific types of work are required to report the number of employees who work at coal mines and noncoal mines. In 2004, a total of 4,143 contracting companies reported employment at noncoal mines to MSHA, or 61.9% of all independent contractor companies. A total of 42,511 employees, corresponding to 22,198 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees, were reported by noncoal contractors to MSHA. Within the mining sectors, noncoal contractor employees comprised 8.2% of all employee hours reported to MSHA. Noncoal contractor employee hours were reported for both underground (4.0%) and surface (96.0%) work locations. Eight occupational fatalities occurred among noncoal contractor employees in 2004, accounting for 61.5% of all fatalities attributed to independent contractors. The noncoal contractor fatality rate for all work locations was 36.0 fatalities per 100,000 FTE employees. There were 368 nonfatal lost-time injuries among noncoal contractor employees (25 at underground and 343 at surface work locations) occurring at a rate of 1.7 injuries per 100 FTE employees. These injuries resulted in 19,028 days lost from work, comprising 4.1% of days lost across all mining sectors. The underground nonfatal lost-time injury rate for noncoal contractor employees was 2.8 per 100 FTE workers, while the surface rate was 1.6. The most frequent classification of nonfatal lost time injuries reported for noncoal contractor employees involved handling materials (n=107; 29.1%), followed by slip or fall of person (n=92; 25.0%). In 2004, the most frequently reported parts of the body injured were the back (n=56; 15.2%; 2,912 days lost from work) and fingers (n=56; 15.2%; 2,695 days lost from work). In 2004, eight cases of occupational illnesses were reported to MSHA by noncoal contractors. This compares to 12 cases in 2003. Three cases of systemic poisoning were reported, accounting for 37.5% of all noncoal contractor occupational illness.
NIOSH Pittsburgh Research Laboratory, P.O. Box 18070, Pittsburgh, PA 15236