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IN THE NEWS - Dangerous Weather, Unforgiving Seas Add Up to Deadliest Job

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This is IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.

Two tragedies at coal mines on opposite sides of the world remind us all how dangerous some jobs can be.

In China last week, floodwaters from a river trapped one hundred eighty-one miners in two mines. An official in Shandong province said Thursday that there was no hope of finding them alive. Almost five thousand people died in coal mine accidents last year in China.

The Crandall Canyon mine in the American state of Utah collapsed on August sixth, trapping six miners. Last week, another collapse at the mine killed three rescuers and injured six others.

Coal mining deaths have been decreasing in the United States. But last year there were forty-seven, more than double the number the year before. Twelve of the deaths resulted from an explosion at the Sago mine in West Virginia.

A commercial fishing boat strikes rocks near Ketchikan, Alaska, in September 2004
A commercial fishing boat strikes rocks near Ketchikan, Alaska, in September 2004

The Labor Department has a newly published report on work-related deaths last year in the United States. The construction industry had the largest number. But the single deadliest job in the United States is commercial fisherman.

Fifty-one workers in the fishing industry were killed, a rate of about one hundred forty-two deaths for every one hundred thousand workers. It was by far the highest rate of deaths when compared with other jobs.

A popular television program on the Discovery Channel, "Deadliest Catch," takes people inside the dangerous world of professional fishing.

NARRATOR: "A boat with a full stack of pots is at its most vulnerable. When loaded, the [Alaskan crab boat] Time Bandit will have one hundred ten thousand pounds of steel stacked above deck, increasing the risk of rollover. In the past, the combination of top-heavy boats and rough seas has consistently led to tragedy."

FISHERMAN: "We're laying way over on our side! Five people on the boat, repeat, five people."

In all, the Labor Department says five thousand seven hundred three people in the United States died from work-related injuries last year. There were thirty-one fewer deaths than the year before. And the death rate was the lowest since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began collecting this information in nineteen ninety-two.

But deadly injuries increased in some jobs. Aircraft-related deaths were up sharply. Pilots and flight engineers had the second highest death rate of all jobs last year. The third highest was among workers who cut down trees.

Other jobs with high death rates were iron and steel workers, waste collectors and farmers and other agricultural workers. Power-line workers, roofers and professional drivers also had high death rates.

Road accidents were down last year but were still the most common cause of work-related deaths in America.

Congress approved mine-safety reforms last year after the Sago disaster. But mine operators have another two years to put in place two-way communication and tracking devices to help locate trapped miners.

And that's IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English, written by Brianna Blake. I'm Steve Ember.

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