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January 13, 2009

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US miner deaths fall to record low

The number of miner deaths in the United States has dropped to a record low since records began nearly a century ago, according to data released by federal investigators.

The Associated Press has reported that 51 miners were killed in 2008, of which 29 deaths occurred in coal mines. The previous lowest level of miner deaths was recorded in 2004, when 55 died.

Mine safety has become a prominent issue in the US following a series of mining disasters in Kentucky, Utah and West Virginia between 2006 and 2007, which saw a total of 140 miners killed. As a result, the US Mine Safety and Health Administration hired an additional 360 inspectors and paid $10million in overtime to complete mandatory safety reviews at all the nation’s mines.

Despite the all-time low, the watchdog’s chief administrator, Richard Stickler is disheartened by the new figures and believes more should be done to reduce the figures further. Stickler said: “Fifty-one fatalities are 51 tragedies and 51 families that will be changed forever, and that is unacceptable and disheartening.

“We are by no means where we need to be in terms of safety in coal mines. I’d like to think we’re on the road to zero and I hope that in my lifetime I see that achieved.”

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