Letter: Rising death toll in British mines

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The Independent Online
Sir: Eddy Hindmarsh, Head of Mining at British Coal, asserts (letter, 4 January) that 'Britain's pits are safer today than at any time in the long history of mining in this country. You are safer working in a coal mine than you are driving down a motorway.'

Social Trends 22, published in the middle of 1992, states quite clearly 'the (fatal injury) rate has increased in coal mining over the past two years', a fact confirmed in a parliamentary reply to Sam Galbraith, MP on 1 December 1992.

The Annual Report for the Health and Safety Commission (HSC), published on 10 December 1992, states with regard to coal mining 'there was a slight upward trend in accident rates for fatal and major injuries' and a graph shows coal extraction to have by far the largest 'all reported injury rate for 1991/92' of all industries, and to be more than six times the average of all industries.

It was safer on the Herald of Free Enterprise than the Titanic, but two wrongs do not make a right, and the death and injury rates in both coal mining and motorway travel are too high. If it is true that British Coal's safety record is the best in the world, why then does British Coal, the government's 'independent' advisers, Boyds, and the HSC want to bring in the more dangerous American mining methods?

Yours sincerely,

A. J. P. DALTON

Centre for Industrial and

Environmental Safety and Health

South Bank University

London, SE1

4 January

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