Friday, April 15, 2005

MSHA, Medical Examiner Disagree on Miner's Death

MSHA has been touting 2004 as the safest mining year on record. But was it?

Mine Safety & Health News (not available on the web) has a story in the April 4 issue that MSHA discounted a miner's death as rsulting from naural causes even though the West Virginia Medical Examiner ruled it an accident. Forrest Riley died last October while operating a scoop in Consol's Shoemaker Mine, Marshall County, W.Va. The end of a pipe entered the operator's compartment, trapping him. The medical examiner apparently found that Riley died of a heart attack but could not rule out the pipe's striking him as a possible factor.

MSHA's mine fatality count for 2004 currently stands at 55, compared with 56 for 2003. That makes it the safest year on record for the fourth year in a row -- if the count is accurate.

The agency has already revised the 2004 count upwards to include other fatalities that it did not originally recognize as under its jurisdiction.

Mine Safety & Health News editor Ellen Smith can be reached at


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