International evaluation of injury rates in coal mining: A comparison of risk and compliance-based regulatory approaches

Gerald S. Poplin, Hugh B. Miller, James Ranger-Moore, Carmel M. Bofinger, Margaret Kurzius-Spencer, Robin B. Harris, Jefferey L. Burgess

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


It is unknown if either of the two dominant regulatory approaches commonly employed in the mining industry to oversee occupational health and safety is superior in terms of reducing workplace injuries. In effort to answer this question, the following study analyzed annual lost-time injury (LTI) rates for bituminous coal mines in the United States (US) with respect to Queensland (QLD) and New South Wales (NSW), Australia from 1996 to 2003. Using the available data sources, changes in the occurrences of accidents and injuries were contrasted between each of these regions. The relationship between secular trends in injury rates and changes in the Australian regulatory structure from compliance-based to a risk-based approach was examined to see if evidence existed that the implementation of risk-based regulatory systems may be associated with substantive improvement in employee safety. Generalized estimating equations were constructed to analyze rates of change in incident rate ratios (IRR) of LTIs among coal mines. From 1996 to 2003, LTIs per 100,000 miners declined 20% in the US as compared with 78% and 52% in QLD and NSW, and the adjusted IRR for each region decreased by 11%, 72% and 44%, respectively. The application of risk-based health and safety regulations in Australia provides one explanation for the differential decline in LTIs among Australian states when compared to the US.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1196-1204
Number of pages9
JournalSafety Science
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 2008


  • Incident rate ratio
  • Lost-time injury
  • Mining
  • Regulation
  • Risk management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Safety Research
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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