Twenty-two mine workers have died in various mining accidents across the US during the first half of the year, according to a report by the US Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA).
This is an increase of 22% over the same period for last year and nearly 16% higher than the first half of 2012, when the figures reached 19 deaths.
Among the 22 fatalities this year, eight were killed in coal mines whereas other workers lost their lives in non-coal mining operations, claims the MSHA.
During the second quarter of the year 14 mine workers died, including five in coal mining accidents and nine in metal and non-metal mining accidents.
The US mining sector witnessed 16 deaths in non-coal operations in both 2011 and 2012.
In response to the rising fatalities, the MSHA started training and enforcement efforts in May to reduce deaths in the metal and non-metal sectors.
MSHA assistant secretary Joseph A Main said: "Mining fatalities are preventable and they are a reminder that much more needs to be done to protect the nation’s miners.
"These deaths should serve as a wake-up call for all of us to keep safety at the forefront at all times."
According to the MSHA, most of the mining deaths were the result of machinery and powered-haulage accidents, which could have been prevented by conducting workplace examinations before and during the shifts.
In order to prevent such fatal accidents in future, the agency has increased surveillance and enforced strict inspections for mines including special initiatives such as ‘rules to live by.’
"We know it takes the efforts of all of us in MSHA and the mining industry to improve mine safety and health," Main added.