Alaska mines fatality-free for first quarter

Nation loses five miners in five weekends

More than seven months have passed since Alaska’s last mine fatality.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration recently announced that a total of 10 U.S. miners died working in the nation’s mines in the first quarter of 2012 — six coal miners and four hard rock miners. The total fatalities are 12 to date.

Five fatal accidents occurred on five consecutive weekends in the first three months of the year, according to Mine Safety’s mine fatality update. Three of the five involved mine supervisors.

Mine Safety reports the accidents were caused by “exploding vessels under pressure, drowning, handling materials, rib fall, machinery, electrical … powered haulage, a fall from an elevated walkway and, in two separate incidents, fall of material.”

“Fatalities are preventable,” said Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of Labor for mine safety and health. “Workplace examinations for hazards — pre-shift and on-shift, every shift — can identify and eliminate hazards that kill and injure miners.”

Main advises effective and appropriate training to prevent fatalities.

For an MSHA summary of U.S. mining fatalities in the first three months of 2012 visit 1.usa.gov/JKg8vw.

For more detailed information visit 1.usa.gov/IRc3Xb for metal and non-metal mine fatalities, or 1.usa.gov/IC9FWY for coal mine fatalities.

• Contact reporter Russell Stigall at 523-2276 or at russell.stigall@juneauempire.com.

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