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. Companies: In 2006, a total of 4,686 contracting companies reported employment at noncoal mines to MSHA, or 63.2% of all independent contracting companies. Employees: A total of 55,945 employees, corresponding to 31,294 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees, were reported by noncoal contractors to MSHA. Within the mining sectors, noncoal contractor employees comprised 9.4% of all employee hours reported to MSHA. Noncoal contractor employee hours were reported for both underground (4.5%) and surface (95.5%) work locations. Fatalities: Seven occupational fatalities occurred among noncoal contractor employees in 2006, accounting for 58.3% of all fatalities attributed to independent contractors. The noncoal contractor fatality rate for all work locations was 23.6 fatalities per 100,000 FTE employees. Nonfatal Lost-time Injuries: There were 452 nonfatal lost-time injuries among noncoal contractor employees (49 at underground and 403 at surface work locations) occurring at a rate of 1.5 injuries per 100 FTE employees. These injuries resulted in 24,571 days lost5 from work. The underground nonfatal lost-time injury rate for noncoal contractor employees was 3.5 per 100 FTE workers, while the surface rate was 1.4. The most frequent classification of nonfatal lost-time injuries reported for noncoal contractor employees involved handling materials (n=158; 35.0%), followed by slips or falls (n=111; 24.6%). Sprains and strains were the most frequently reported nature of injury (n=167; 36.9%). In 2006, the most frequently reported body parts injured were the fingers (n=68; 15.0%; 3,783 days lost), back (n=63; 13.9%; 3,028 days lost), and knee (n=50; 11.1%; 2,086 days lost).
NIOSH Pittsburgh Research Laboratory, P.O. Box 18070, Pittsburgh, PA 15236