Fatality Rates and Regulatory Policies in Bituminous Coal Mining, United States, 1959-1981

Date Published: 
Tue, 11/01/1983

By James L. Weeks and Maier Fox.American Journal of Public Health. November 1983.

This study looks a coal mining deaths in the decade leading up to the game-changing  Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969, and then examines what happened in the decade after passage. The key take way: "For the period from 1950 to 1969, there was no decline in fatality rates among underground miners. For the period from 1970 to 1980, there was a significant decline in fatality rates."   "The authors also find an uptick in fatalities that correlates with the loosening of mine safety regulations and the declining number of inspectors in the early 1980s. (The authors also observe that U.S. mine fatalities are consistently higher than their Western European counterparts, even in the mid-to-late 1970s when the American regulatory regime was at its peak.) A follow up report confirms their initial findings.