Department for Natural Resources
Kentucky Sets Record for Mine Safety
Kentucky coal mines have experienced the safest year in Kentucky’s mining history. The past year has been significant in mine safety for two reasons. For the first time, there were no mining fatalities in an underground mine. Secondly, the two surface mining fatalities that occurred in 2007 are the lowest number of fatalities on record.
Kentucky leads the nation in the number of coal mines and is the nation’s third largest producer of coal. Kentucky miners and their families have long paid the ultimate price for mining the black gold that has fueled America’s economy for over a century. Records back to 1890 indicate that the deadliest decade in mining was in the 1920s when 1,614 mining fatalities were recorded. Since that time, the number of fatalities has steadily decreased with each decade-242 fatalities in the 1980s, 117 fatalities in the 1990s and 61 fatalities since 2000.
“This is a positive indication that the new mine safety laws, including Kentucky’s new drug testing program, are having the desired effect. Of equal importance is the focus that our coal industry and Kentucky miners have placed on safety and the heightened sense of awareness of every miner to work safely every day,” said Commissioner Susan Bush. She added, “While this historic decrease in fatalities is very encouraging, we cannot let down our guard or lessen our efforts to ensure that every miner returns home safely every day. The goal remains zero fatalities.”
The Kentucky General Assembly passed major mine safety legislation in 2006 and 2007, and launched the first drug testing program for miners in the nation. Since the new drug testing program went into effect in July 2006, 443 certified miners have been suspended.