Mining deaths in Utah rose from just one in 1987 to five in 1988, reversing a national trend toward fewer mining accidents, a recently released federal Mine Safety and Health Administration report says.
MSHA said there were 100 mine fatalities in the United States in 1988, compared with 130 during 1987.The agency said that in the six-state Rocky Mountain Region 8 there were 11 fatalities in coal, metal and nonmetal mines in 1988, up from eight in 1987. Region 8 is comprised of Utah, Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana.
Three of Utah's five mining deaths in 1988 occurred in coal properties. Utah reported no coal mine deaths in 1987.
Despite the rise in mining deaths in the region and state in 1988 over 1987, MSHA said the record low death rate nationally can be attributed to a sharp decline in underground coal mine fatalities caused by falling rocks from the roof. MSHA said roof fall fatalities dropped to eight in 1988, compared with 18 in 1987 and 26 in 1986.
Historically, roof falls have been the most frequent cause of fatal accidents in U.S. coal mines.
MSHA said the drop in roof fall accidents in 1988 may be due to widespread adoption of Automated Temporary Roof Supports in underground coal mines.
ATRS's protect miners who enter newly mined areas to install roof bolts, the most common type of roof support.