August 12, 2007
With the six miners still trapped underground, and many miners losing their lives in the past few years, we decided to take a look to see just how risky it would be to work in a mine.
Incidents of recent days are reminders that coal mining can be life-risking work. Last year, 47 coal miners died in several incidents, including 12 in the Sago Mine disaster. The industry's death toll more than doubled from the year before.
New federal statistics show coal mining has one of the highest death rates of any profession in the U.S., but not the highest.
That grisly distinction goes to fishermen. They are sometimes seen being rescued after ships capsize or sink. For every 100,000 people in the industry last year, 142 died.
Next in line for deadliest jobs come pilots, due to a series of incidents in 2006, including the crash of a Comair jet in August.
Following pilots on the list of highest occupational fatalities are loggers, iron and steel workers, and coal miners coming in fifth on the list.
After that comes refuse collectors, farmers and ranchers, power line workers, people who work on roofs, and those who do a great deal of driving for a living.
Overall, preliminary figures show 5,703 occupational deaths last year. That figure is down just barely from the year before. If those figures hold, 2006 would mark the lowest rate since the tabulations started in 1992.
Still, the Labor Department said this week there is a long way to go. Don't be surprised if this issue gains traction in the presidential race, as it often does.
The safety of your workplace and the ability to earn overtime are on the ballot November 2nd.