Mining Operations: In 2007, a total of 278 metal mining operations reported employment to the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). Metal mines were the smallest mining commodity sector, comprising 1.9% of all mining operations. 1. Gold mines comprised 44.6% (n=124) of all metal mining operations. Other common types of metal mines were iron ore (n=36; 12.9%) and copper ore (n=35; 12.6%). 2. Nevada had the largest number of metal mines (n=45; 16.2%), followed by Alaska (n=28; 10.1%). Employees: A total of 36,000 employees, corresponding to 37,746 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees, were reported by metal mine operators. 1. Within the mining sectors, metal mine operator employees accounted for 11.2% of all employee hours reported to MSHA. 2. Metal operator employee hours were reported for both underground (14.4%) and surface (85.6%) work locations. Fatalities: Seven occupational fatalities occurred among metal mine operator employees in 2007, compared to three fatalities in 2006. 1. The metal mine operator fatality rate was 21.1 fatalities per 100,000 FTE employees. Nonfatal Lost-time Injuries: There were 798 nonfatal lost-time injuries (178 at underground and 620 at surface work locations) among metal operator employees occurring at an overall rate of 2.4 injuries per 100 FTE employees. A total of 40,696 days lost from work resulted from these injuries. 1. The underground nonfatal lost-time injury rate was greater than the surface injury rate (3.3 vs. 2.2 per 100 FTE workers). 2. The most frequent classification of nonfatal lost-time injuries for metal operator employees involved handling materials (n=249; 31.2%). 3. Sprains and strains were the most frequently reported nature of injury (n=410; 51.4%). 4. The back was the most frequently reported body part injured (n=122; 15.3%) and accounted for 5,070 days lost from work.
NIOSH Pittsburgh Research Laboratory, P.O. Box 18070, Pittsburgh, PA 15236