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 perform work at coal mines and at noncoal mines. In 2002, a total of 2,820 contracting companies reported employment at coal mines to MSHA. A total of 30,332 coal contractor employees, corresponding to 16,795 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees, were reported to MSHA in 2002. This represents an 8.4% decrease in FTE coal contractor employees from 2001. Seven work-related fatalities occurred among coal contractor employees in 2002, compared to six in 2001. There were 641 nonfatal lost-time injuries among coal contractor employees occurring at a rate of 3.8 injuries per 100 FTEs in 2002. A total of 36,347 days lost from work resulted from these injuries. Eighteen cases of occupational illness in coal contractor employees were reported to MSHA in 2002. There were four cases of systemic poisoning; three cases each of hearing impairment, black lung (coal workers' pneumoconiosis), and unclassified occupational diseases; two cases of joint, tendon, or muscle inflammation or irritation; and one case each of dermatitis, heat stroke, and other injury.
NIOSH Pittsburgh Research Laboratory, P.O. Box 18070, Pittsburgh, PA 15236