Coal Mining is Safe 


    The month of January 2006 has been a devastating month for our industry and for families within our industry. Our hearts and prayers go out to those who have been involved in or have lost loved ones in these recent mining accidents. 
    We must, as individuals, and as an industry, dedicate ourselves to preventing occurrences of this type. WE can do this! Our history proves that we can; however, we must be cautious that we don't over react to the emotion of these recent situations. Make certain that we have the facts so that we can accurately address causes of these accidents. In our haste to do something, we may do things that do not improve safety for miners... and that is what this is all about... people. Our goal must be reduce disabling injuries and fatalities to zero (0). Anything other than zero (0) means that one of our fellow employees has been injured.
One basic tenet of a successful safety process is: All injuries can be prevented. We must adopt this philosophy, individually and collectively, as an industry. Some companies had already implemented safety processes with appropriate safety and leadership skills training to address this process.
As previously stated we can be successful in our endeavors to reduce incidents to zero (0). Our history as an industry proves this. To illustrate this point several slides are included with this article.


As you can see from slide one, fatalities have dramatically decreased from 1970-2005 (92% decrease) while production has increased by 83 % during this same time frame.

    This performance has been accomplished by a group of dedicated, highly skilled, professional coal miners who are to be commended for this performance. This has occurred because of their (both management and hourly groups) efforts to make mining a safe, productive industry. We salute your efforts.
    We also recognize that we cannot (and will not) rest on our laurels. The disastrous events of January '06 remind us that we cannot do this. We cannot take safety performance or mining conditions for granted. It's just like you getting into your car and driving each day; you cannot take for granted that everything is the same, even if you drive the same route every day. You must focus on your driving and what is going on around you. AS miners we must do the same thing every day on our jobs; as illustrated with the accompanying slides, we have been doing that, but we must continue to improve.
    When compared to other industries our industry is not the most dangerous occupation in the country as you have been led to believe during recent media coverage. 


Chart 2 shows the fact that our industry is considerably safer than other industries. This safety performance is a direct result of the efforts of dedicated professionals. 

Chart 3 shows 54% reduction in the number of mines from 1990-2005; fatalities decreased by 67% during that same time frame, and the number of inspectors decreased by 28%. All of these slides illustrate improvement, and again, that performance has improved because of your efforts!

As an industry and as individuals we have just experienced a damaging blow. Where do go from here? How do we continue to improve? One of the marks of a champion is to have the ability to get back up after a damaging blow, make it through the round, and then perform like a champion. We have made it through this round (January).

 We, as individuals, and an industry, must work together to encourage each other and help one another heal, and we must perform like the champions we are! Let us resist the temptation to make hasty decisions out of a desire to do something. 

Charts 4 and 5 show that within the U. S. mining industry that coal mining has a better record than other types of mining. We are able to achieve this level of performance in our industry because of the people-dedicated professionals-who have a desire to excel.

As you can see from chart 6, over half (56%) of the mines in the nation completed 2004 with no injuries!

The performance of American coal miners as illustrated in the cited slides is not performance of individuals who cannot find any other kind of work; it is not the performance of individuals who are poorly trained; it is not the performance of individuals who are not adequately equipped to face the rigors of coal mining. It is, rather, the performance of a properly trained, motivated group of professionals who share a desire to achieve excellence and who shun mediocrity in developing and maintaining a safe work environment. We are proud of the accomplishments of our industry, and are confident that the individuals who have accomplished so much will over come these recent setbacks in the industry to once again perform like the world class leaders that they are!              cl             



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