According to expert sources at the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), mining was the single most dangerous industry for workers until 2001. With 23.5 deaths for every 100,000 workers, mining places above industrial fishing, forestry, and agriculture. Just to show how high the number is, let's consider the construction industry. Although considered by many as a dangerous work placement, there are only 12.2 deaths per 100,000 construction workers, around half the number of reported deaths in mining.
Since 2001, the number of deaths in mining has been declining gradually. The US Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) now reports that mining has fallen considerably in the list of dangerous occupations. Taxi drivers, roofers, and pilots now place higher than mining. The change is mainly due to the industry's efforts in reducing explosion risks and improving air quality. Improvements in equipment and procedures have also made a big difference. All in all, the rate of injuries has decreased by almost half.
The number of fatalities varies according to country. In the US, it has either remained steady or fallen, depending on the state. In other countries, such as China, the number of deaths is remarkably higher. In 2004, 28 people died in mining-related occupations in the US; in China, the number was 6027. In fact, China accounts for 80 percent of all mining-related deaths in the world.
Some of the main dangers of mining are related to gas explosions and roof collapse. While the risks are lower in modern times, they still exist. Faulty mining equipment, flooding, dust explosions, and fire also cause a high number of incidents every year. In China, for example, lack of safety regulations accounts for many, if not most, of all mining accidents. Many of the mines operate without a safety license and employ inexperienced workers. Aside from external dangers, mining also presents a series of health hazards. Chronic lung diseases such as pneumoconiosis are less common than in the past, but still occur. Some gases, including carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and sulfur, are common in mines, and can lead to suffocation. Many of these gases are also explosive.