According to the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), 2016 saw the fewest coal miner deaths since record keeping began, with a total of eight lives lost. But that changed in 2017.
While President Donald Trump was boasting of fewer regulations and bringing coal jobs back, 15 people lost their lives in coal mining related incidents - the highest number in three years.
The Senate last month approved David Zatezalo, a former coal mining executive, to lead MSHA, the main agency responsible for coal mine safety.
Zatezalo faced numerous questions about his own safety record throughout the confirmation process. He was previously head of Rhino Resources when MSHA took multiple enforcement actions against the company.