Independent Contractor Employment And Accident Trends In Metal/Nonmetal Mining
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Independent Contractor Employment And Accident Trends In Metal/Nonmetal Mining

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    Within the Mine Safety and Health Administration's (MSHA's) classification of metallnonmetal (MAM) mining, the number of independent contractor' employees has increased significantly in recent years. In 1985 independent contractor employee hours reported to MSHA accounted for 4.5% of all M/NM mining employee hours (excluding office workers); by 1994 that proportion had doubled to 9.0%. As a result, these workers now account for an increasingly significant proportion of fatal and nonfatal mining accidents. According to MSHA's statistics, annually computed fatality incidence rates (the number of fatalities per 200,000 employee hours) for independent contractors working in M/NM mining are consistently higher than those for operator employees. Over the five-year period from 1990 through 1994, 53 independent contractor employees were fatally injured while working on M/NM mine property (See Table 1). More than one third of these fatalities (36%) were due to accidents involving powered haulage; 21% were machinery accidents; and 11% percent were falling material accidents. Combined, these three accident classifications accounted for 68% of all independent contractor fatalities occurring on M/NM mine property during these years. Clearly, current efforts to increase the safety of the mining workforce must also address the safety of the independent contractor employee. This report is a preliminary attempt to identify trends in the employment and safety of independent contractor workers by identifying which segments of M/NM mining are experiencing the greatest increases in the number of independent contractor employees and by examining changes in the rates and types of accidents in which these employees are involved. The employment and accident data used in this report were obtained from the MSHA database. [ ]
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