PBS premiere: "Sustained Outrage"
EXPOSÉ's "Sustained Outrage" premieres on PBS tonight. Check local listings.
When mine disasters happen, the national news media comes running. But through careful data analysis, reporter Ken Ward Jr. of the Charleston Gazette found most miners killed on the job don’t die in disasters that get national attention--rather most who are killed die alone. Collisions between coal transport cars crush workers. Boulders fall from the ceiling. Miners fall into the gears of machinery. But these stories, and the larger trend of unsafe mining conditions, rarely make headlines.
Ward put a decades worth of results from MSHA’s fatality reports into a database and came to the following conclusions:
Only 13 percent of the more than 100,000 coal miners killed in the United States in the last 100 years have died in mine disasters, which regulators define as accidents causing five or more deaths. Between 1996 and 2005, there were 297 fatal coal-mining accidents that killed a total of 320 workers, U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration data shows. Eleven of those accidents claimed more than one life. 286 of the 320 miners killed on the job in the last decade died alone.
The biggest surprise after his six-month investigation: of 320 deaths in U.S coal mines in the past decade, 9 out of 10 were preventable – if the industry had followed its own safety regulations.
>> The Mine Safety and Health Administration tracks mining deaths from 1995 to the present on its website. Poynter.org also highlights other mine safety resources.
>> Read reporter Ken Ward’s tips for anyone interesting in investigating mine or worker safety issues.