Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources


Mining Engineering

Committee Chair

Vladislav Kecojevic

Committee Co-Chair

Deniz Tuncay

Committee Member

Ihsan Berk Tulu


Mining has long been recognized as a hazardous industry worldwide. An annual average rate of 10.3 fatal injuries per 100,000 workers was recorded in the United States between 2008 and 2021 (MSHA, 2022). This rate can be compared with the average of the industries with the highest average rates of fatal injuries—agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting; transportation and warehousing; and construction—which had average rates of 23.5, 13.1, and 9.9 fatal injuries per 100,000 workers, respectively, during the same period in the Unites States (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2023).

The scope of this research is related to the fatal injuries that occurred in United States surface mines from 2008 to 2021. The objective is to investigate, classify, and analyze the final reports of these fatal injuries as recorded by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), interpret the behavior of the categories throughout this period, and discover and identify possible patterns. According to the MSHA mine fatal injuries database, between 2008 and 2021, powered haulage was the leading cause of fatalities in surface mines, accounting for 34.44% of fatal injuries. This was followed by machinery at 26.14% and falling, rolling, or sliding rock or materials at 12.03%. A total of 241 fatal injuries were reported in United States surface mines during that period.

This research presents statistical analysis results of fatal injuries with respect to various categories, including accident classification, state, year of the fatal injury, commodity, age, mine experience, work experience, and their root causes. The fatal injuries in terms of commodities were categorized into four general industries: coal, aggregates, metals, and non-metals. Meanwhile, 528 root causes were classified into 33 groups depending on their similarity. This classification helped identify the group that carried the most weight in fatal injuries in surface mines in the United States.

The results indicate that the mean age of victims in fatal injuries in coal surface mines was approximately 25 years lower compared to the metal and non-metal industry and 30 years lower compared to the aggregates industry.

The mine and job experience data categories were best represented by a gamma distribution, suggesting that miners who were new to the mine or a specific job were more likely to fall victim to a fatal injury. Finally, Failure to follow safe work procedures and conditions while performing the task (FPC), Failure to use appropriate protective equipment (FEP), and Failure to provide adequate task training or new mine training (FTN) were the most influential root cause groups in the analysis of fatal injuries in surface mines in the United States between 2008 and 2021.