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Miners are as safe as CEOs

Posted by Richard on January 26, 2006

I guess I’m at the age where I’ll start saying more and more often, "You young kids don’t know how good you’ve got it. Why, when I was your age…" When I first heard the news about the 12 deaths in a coal mining accident, it occurred to me that that was the first big coal mining accident I’d heard about in years. I recalled that when I was young, such accidents seemed to occur every few months.

According to Iain Murray at TCS Daily, my recollection is correct. The fatality rate for miners in the U.S. is about one-sixth what it was forty years ago, and the occupation has become remarkably safe when compared with others that would seem to be far less risky (link is to PDF):

To hear Senators Byrd and Rockefeller speak, one would think that the coal mining industry in this country is one of the major sources of death in the US. They might be surprised to hear that, while 28 miners died in accidents on the job in 2004, so did 27 top executives. The recent small cluster of mining deaths in two incidents has led to a legislative reaction out of all proportion to the scale of the problem. Mining is already about as safe as such an inherently dangerous activity can be.

According to the 2004 BLS data (PDF linked above), occupations with a similar number of fatal occupational injuries included fire fighters (29), food and beverage serving workers (27), automotive service technicians and mechanics (38), retail salespersons (41), and cashiers (54). Most construction work, agricultural labor, and many manufacturing and repair jobs had far more fatalities. Of course, these are raw number comparisons, not fatality rates, and there are far more cashiers in the U.S. than miners. Still, the numbers are pretty amazing — mining has become remarkably safe.

Murray also pointed out a wonderful post at BizzyBlog that discredited the efforts by the shameless partisans at the New York Times to bash Bush. BizzyBlog quoted a NY Times editorial (emphasis added by BizzyBlog):

Political figures from both parties have long defended and profited from ties to the coal industry. Whether or not that was a factor in the Sago mine’s history, the Bush administration’s cramming of important posts in the Department of the Interior with biased operatives from the coal, oil and gas industry is not reassuring about general safety in the mines. Steven Griles, a mining lobbyist before being appointed deputy secretary of the interior, devoted four years to rolling back mine regulations and then went back to lobbying for the industry.

BizzyBlog did the fact-checking that the Times’ editorial writers couldn’t be bothered with, actually looking up fatality rates in this and the previous administration (emphasis in original):

Contrary to what The Times would have you believe, the trend has been favorable (”reassuring,” if you will) for many years, especially the past four, where there has been a near-50% drop in fatalities. In fact, these results support the contention that staffing Interior with people who actually know their industry has led to greater safety. And where was The Times when coal mine fatalities increased over 40% during the last three years of the previous administration’s arguable responsiblity (1999, 2000, and 2001, given that a new administration’s first budget and full implementation of its priorities typically does not occur until October of its first year in office)? 

Read the whole post, including the astonishing information about Chinese coal mining and the multiple updates. Lots of good info and links.

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3 Responses to “Miners are as safe as CEOs”

  1. gorilla@large said

    I can’t take it. I keep trying to stop by here and see how your craven capitulation to the forces of darkness is paying off. But every time I do I have to go wash my eyes out with Holy Water.

    If I stop by more than once, does each additional stop per day count as another visit to you website, or is it once a day per address no matter how many times I check in in a day?

    I can’t beleive I’m helping you pad your stats. The Great Boohoo will understand.

    Keep ’em flying.


  2. Tom said

    Thanks for noticing. That mining post has gotten picked by a lot of people, and I’m glad it punctured the MSM BS about mine safety.

    I just blogrolled you. Good stuff here.

    Check out my latest on how the left blogs are almost silent about Google-China censorship:

    Tom Blumer

  3. Anonymous said

    Gorilla: Who are you trying to kid? There’s no way you’d ever get your hands on Holy Water. Re stats, the most common counts are “page views” and “unique visitors.” You’re definitely one of the latter, but I don’t know over what time frame one must be unique. 😉

    Tom: Thanks for the kind words. I’ve returned the favor.

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