Staying the course: Can 2016 continue the safety trend we saw last year?

March 21, 2016

For the mining industry, 2015 was more than just a “memorable” year. It was historical – and in a good way.

When the U.S. Mining Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) announced 2015 as the safest year ever in mining history, it confirmed that tangible progress is being made toward CORESafety’s goal of 0-50-5. Together, coal mines and metal/non-metal mines recorded the fewest fatalities in the history of American mining. Total mine fatalities were at the lowest number since 2009, the previous record year.

National Mining Association (NMA) President and CEO Hal Quinn said it best: “The record confirms the value of our safety initiatives and our on-going determination to return every miner home safely after every shift.”

So, does this mean it’s really possible to eventually eliminate mining fatalities and reduce injuries by 50 percent within five years? Yes, if last year’s trend continues in 2016 and beyond. And some industry experts interviewed by CORESafety in recent months think we’re on the right track too.

“I absolutely do believe it,” said independent mining consultant Don Ritz, formerly of Barrick Gold Corp.. “But you have to have personal involvement in safety on the part of your executives to even try to achieve it.”

Coeur Mining’s senior vice president and chief operating officer Frank Hanagarne said, “I expect the industry will continue to improve its compliance record, which has improved dramatically, but also implement additional measures like those embedded in CORESafety to improve our safety performance even further.”

Matt Pedersen-Howard, vice president of health and safety at Peabody Energy, thinks so as well. “Yes, it’s doable. We need to do more at challenging the existing norms,” Pedersen-Howard told NMA.

“Setting goals, challenging goals, like 0-50-5 is something [that’shighlyimportant], because goals should be high and goals should be reached with proper planning and commitment,” declared Dr. Michael Karmis, director of the Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research at Virginia Tech. “I think CORESafety is a wonderful program that aligns all implementations of health and safety aspects.”

As we move toward the second quarter of 2016, perhaps it’s a good time to remind ourselves of CORESafety’s three core competencies –
• Leadership
• Management
• Assurance

…that are managed through continual improvement principles:

• Plan
• Do
• Check
• Act

Keep focusing on the fundamentals in 2016 – and perhaps we’ll get even closer to 0-50-5.

To read more of CORESafety’s “Dig a Little Deeper” interviews, look for links on the home page at


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