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Mine Accidents

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MINE ACCIDENTS. The conservation of human life in mining and other industrial plants is of such importance that it has re sulted in the enactment of inspection laws, the purpose of which is to safeguard the work men. The first coal mine-inspection law was enacted in Pennsylvania in 1870,• and since then the other States have done likewise until all the important coal-producing States are tinder State inspection.

The United States has produced 500,000 tons of coal under inspection since the first State-mine inspection law was enacted. The complete records for this production to the close of 1917 show that 59,269 men have been killed in coalmine accidents while in the per formance of their regular duties of mining coal. The number of men engaged in the production of this amount of coal represents the equiva lent of an army of 18,078,000 men engaged for one year. The number of men killed per 1,000 employed during this 48-year period was 3.28. For every 10,000,000 tons of coal produced 55 lives were lost, or a production of 186,700 tons for each life.

At the beginning of the inspection service, the fatality rate was 5.92 per 1,000 men em ployed, or a production of 74,238 tons of coal per fatality. In both 1915 and 1916, the fatality rate was 3.09 per 1,000 men employed, while in 1917, owing to war conditions, the fatality rate was 3.56 per 1,000 men employed. The largest production per fatality was in 1916 when 265, 094 tons of coal were mined for each man killed during the year.

Records of nonfatal accidents at coal mines are incomplete, but with the enactment of com pensation laws since 1911, data relating to these are being collected, but it has not been as sembled sufficiently to give a total for the United States for any particular year. How ever, it is believed they will be comparable with the figures for the metal mines.

Inspection in metal-mining States has not been as complete as in the coal-mining States. However, in 1911 the United States Bureau of Mines began a systematic census of metal mines and quarries, resulting in representa tive data. Complete returns are not possible, by reason of the law not making it compulsory to report to the bureau. Sufficient data have been obtained, however, to indicate that the nonfatal accident rate in metal mines is more than 300 per year per 1,000 men employed. It is believed that this rate will also apply to coal mines. The quarry rate is less, about 125 per 1,000, as all work is performed in the open day light conditions.

Table 1 shows that for the mines, quarries and metallurgical works of the United States more than 1,000,000 men are employed, of whom three out of every 1,000 are killed each )ear. At least 300 per 1,000 in the combined industries are injured to the extent that valu able time is lost, and in most cases medical attendance required. A reduction of 50 per cent in the number of accidents would mean an annual saving of 1,500 lives, to say nothing of lessening the injuries and sufferings sustained by about 300,000 workmen. From an humani

tarian point of view, a great good would be accomplished if this reduction could be brought about. Accidents will occur, yet experience shows that they may be reduced in number al though it is impossible to eliminate diem entirely.

The accompanying tables point out some of the principal causes of accidents and furnish enough basic information to call attention to the importance of accident prevention.

As a summary of what may be done to assist in accident reduction, the following is submitted : 1. Keep exact records of all accidents as to time, place, cause and result of accident along the line of the report required by the insurance companies before a claim is paid.

2. Keep detailed records of men employed, days worked, as well as shifts and wages lost by reason of accidents. This will bring out the economic loss due to accidents.

3. Standardization of mining laws, rules and regulations so that all companies will be re quired to render to the State mine inspector, or compensation commission, the same type of report.

4. Co-operation with State and Federal agencies, whose objects are a reduction of acci dents, the welfare of the worlanan and the installation of safety devices.

5. The spread of safety-first propaganda as much as possible in any manner whatever whereby an interest may be created among the employees, and thus educate them to be able to take care of themselves.

6. The installation of safety devices; syste matic inspection, and above all the education of employer and employee as to the needs of re sults to be obtained from accident-prevention work.

Fatalities in the Mining Industry Due to Table 4 shows the number of fatalities from the use of explosives in the bituminous coal mining industry and Table 5 shows the number and percentage of fatalities at metal mines and quarries due to explosives. In 1903 (Table 4) 9.8 per cent of the fatalities at bituminous mines were due to the use of ex plosives, whereas in 1917 only 2.65 per cent were due to this cause, owing to the introduc tion of permissible explosives.

Table 5 shows that from 11 to 14 per cent of the metal-mine fatalities and 16 to 26 per cent of the quarry fatalities are due to ex plosives, whereas in Table 4 for the same years the percentage in bituminous coal mines was 3.68 to 2.65 in 1917.

Principal Table 6 on the following page gives what is believed to be a complete list of those coal-mine disasters in the United States in which 100 or more men were killed.

Fay, A. H., 'Metal-mine Accidents in the United States' (Tech. paper 224, United States Bureau of Mines, ib. 1917) ; id., 'Coke-oven Accidents in the United States in 1916' (Tech. paper 173, United States Bureau of Mines, ib. 1917) ; id., 'Coal-mining Fatalities in the United States in 1916> (Washington 1917). Coal mine fatalities in the United States, 1918, with tables supplemental to Bureau of Mines Bull. 115 (Washington 1919).