According to the Mining Health and Safety Administration (MSHA), the US mining sector reported lower fatality levels in 2009 due to stricter mining health and safety regulations.

In 2009, metal and non-metal mining mishaps, together with coal-mine related mishaps, caused 34 deaths compared to the 52 mining related deaths that happened in 2008.

Powered haulage accounted for a large portion of metal and non-metal mining deaths in 2009 with four deaths at surface mines due to machinery related mishaps and one at an underground mine.

In 2009, coal companies recorded 18 mining related deaths, their lowest number to date, as there were no major coal mine accidents in the US for the second year in a row.

Last year, West Virginia and Alabama reported the largest number of mining fatalities with three each, followed by Texas, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Missouri and Illinois with two deaths each.

The United Mine Workers of America international vice-president for the Midwest Steve Earle told the Associated Press that safety at mines can be improved by increasing the number of inspectors.

“The more we can put our inspectors in the mines, the safer those mines will become and the closer we will come to zero fatalities,” Earle said.