The nation's coal mines set a record for the lowest number of on-the-job fatalities last year, with 16.
The U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration issued a news release Monday noting two fewer deaths than the previous low of 18 in 2009. The department says it's the lowest annual number of coal mining deaths ever recorded.
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Coal mine employment in Appalachia has dropped drastically in recent years, meaning there are fewer miners working in fewer underground mines, where most coal-related fatalities typically occur. But the department said current nationwide coal employment is similar to what it was in the early 2000s, when there were twice as many annual deaths.
Forty miners died in 2014 in all mines, which include metal and non-metal operations.