Federal regulators say 2012 had the lowest death and injury rates in the history of U.S. mining, with 36 on-the-job fatalities.
That’s up one from preliminary totals the Mine Safety and Health Administration had announced in April. MSHA says it added the Dec. 28 death of a coal miner at the Choctaw Mine in Walker County, Ala.
MSHA said final figures also show the lowest rate of contractor deaths since it began tracking them in 1983. Five contractors died last year, down from 11 the previous year.
MSHA director Joe Main credits better enforcement by his agency and actions taken by the industry.
About 100 fewer coal mines were in operation last year. The number of working coal miners fell from around 143,000 in 2011 to around 137,000 last year.