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Mining deaths down on safety agency’s enforcement initiatives

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U.S. mining deaths reached an all-time low in fiscal year 2016, with 25 miners perishing, according to the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

Nine of these fatalities occurred in coal mines, while 16 happened in the metals/nonmetals sector, according to an agency analysis released on Thursday.

By comparison, 38 miners perished from workplace injuries in fiscal year 2015, according to MSHA. 

The fatality and total injury rates for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30 represent the lowest rates ever recorded, the agency said, with the all-injury rate declining to 2.14 per 200,000 hours worked compared with 2.39 in fiscal year 2015. 

MSHA has attributed declining fatalities in the sector to increased enforcement, particularly against chronic violators of mine safety rules, improved compliance and its “Rules to Live By” initiative, which identifies conditions and practices causing miner fatalities, safety standards violated and abatement practices and educates mining companies to prevent such fatalities. 

The number of citations and orders also declined below the 100,000 mark for the first time, with 96,908 citations and orders issued in fiscal year 2016, compared with 112,342 during the previous fiscal year, according to MSHA. 

The dollar amount assessed totaled $47.8 million, down from $71.6 million in fiscal year 2015, according to the analysis.