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Is Mining Dangerous?

Diana Bocco
By Diana Bocco
Updated May 17, 2024
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According to expert sources at the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), mining was the single most dangerous industry for workers until 2001. With 23.5 deaths for every 100,000 workers, mining places above industrial fishing, forestry, and agriculture. Just to show how high the number is, let's consider the construction industry. Although considered by many as a dangerous work placement, there are only 12.2 deaths per 100,000 construction workers, around half the number of reported deaths in mining.

Since 2001, the number of deaths in mining has been declining gradually. The US Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) now reports that mining has fallen considerably in the list of dangerous occupations. Taxi drivers, roofers, and pilots now place higher than mining. The change is mainly due to the industry's efforts in reducing explosion risks and improving air quality. Improvements in equipment and procedures have also made a big difference. All in all, the rate of injuries has decreased by almost half.

The number of fatalities varies according to country. In the US, it has either remained steady or fallen, depending on the state. In other countries, such as China, the number of deaths is remarkably higher. In 2004, 28 people died in mining-related occupations in the US; in China, the number was 6027. In fact, China accounts for 80 percent of all mining-related deaths in the world.

Some of the main dangers of mining are related to gas explosions and roof collapse. While the risks are lower in modern times, they still exist. Faulty mining equipment, flooding, dust explosions, and fire also cause a high number of incidents every year. In China, for example, lack of safety regulations accounts for many, if not most, of all mining accidents. Many of the mines operate without a safety license and employ inexperienced workers. Aside from external dangers, mining also presents a series of health hazards. Chronic lung diseases such as pneumoconiosis are less common than in the past, but still occur. Some gases, including carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and sulfur, are common in mines, and can lead to suffocation. Many of these gases are also explosive.

AboutMechanics is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By anon252433 — On Mar 05, 2012

Well I have a fairly decent background in mining no. 8, and first off, I can tell you that mining does not cause earthquakes. However the environmental impacts of mining are potentially very dangerous for the surrounding communities, be it developed land, or natural habitats. Yet since the 1970s the mining industry has been working with the US governm,ent agencies such as the EPA, BLM, Forest Service and others as well as local governments to help ensure that the environment is protected.

Mines are now responsible for "reclaiming" the land they've mined. This helps to ensure water is protected, plant life that had been cleared out is replaced, and local wildlife is not harmed. There also restrictions in place during mining to help minimize air pollution, dust, noise, and even light at night to help minimize environmental impacts.

By anon174115 — On May 09, 2011

When discussing the dangers of mining, I think it would be appropriate to allow cover the environmental consequences such as poisonous runoffs esp. with gold, mountains being leveled in the coal regions down South, instability of land possibly causing ground collapses like sinkholes and earthquakes, etc. I hope someone with such knowledge would post here to round out the discussion.

By anon152971 — On Feb 15, 2011

I was doing a project for school and I was just wondering about the details for a mine roof collapsing -- like how does the roof fall in the first place. Thank you. I hope for an answer soon.

By periwinkle — On Oct 02, 2010

thanks for this article, diana.

i had the same question as #5. I'm not sure if you'll get this message, #5, since you're anonymous, but I found an article online about mining accidents. It seems that most accidents happen from hard rock mining and coal mining but there is risk in mining in general.

By anon90507 — On Jun 16, 2010

dose the same thing happen in gem mines?

By anon69318 — On Mar 07, 2010

Who wrote this? the article for Is Mining Dangerous. I need the author's last name for a science project.

By anon49904 — On Oct 23, 2009

this website really helped out with a science report that was impossible to get info for! thank you!

By anon7011 — On Jan 15, 2008

diana bocco,

it's sulphur, not sulfur.

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