Our Approach to Safety

Safety is a deeply engrained value at Arch. We have consistently led our large, integrated peers in safety performance, as measured by lost-time incident rate. While we’re proud of that accomplishment, we’re sharply focused on further improvement. We have made zero safety incidents at every operation every year our single, highest priority.
Leading in Safety Performance

Arch Resources


10 largest North American peers


Lost-time incidents per 200,000 employee-hours worked in 2020

During the past five years, Arch has averaged 0.92 lost-time incidents per 200,000 employee-hours worked, versus an average of 2.26 lost-time incidents for our 10 largest North American peers. In 2020, Arch averaged 0.93 lost-time incidents per 200,000 employee-hours worked, versus 2.60 for our 10 largest North American peers. 

Across the organization, employees engage in a proactive, behavior-based approach to safety. Every field employee participates in safety training on an ongoing basis, and nearly 100 percent of our field employees have been trained as safety observers. If an at-risk behavior or a barrier to safe behavior is identified, employees are empowered to engage and to apply their training to resolve the potentially unsafe condition or practice immediately. During 2020, Arch’s operating subsidiaries conducted more than 200,000 safety observations, and more than 90,000 pre-job risk assessments.

Operating safely and responsibly is Arch’s single highest priority and the cornerstone of our corporate culture

Paul A. Lang, CEO

Since launching the behavior-based program in 2007, Arch’s operating subsidiaries have recorded a total of 1.45 million safety observations and — in so doing — have created a deep, employee-driven safety culture. Most importantly, the process has resulted in the successful modification of at-risk behaviors and has served as a platform for reinforcing positive behaviors. In addition, Arch operations conduct safety meetings in advance of every shift, to ensure that every employee begins every workday sharply focused on working safely.

Employee-Driven Safety Culture



Safety observations recorded by Arch’s operating subsidiaries since launching the behavior-based program in 2007
Each Arch subsidiary has recruited a team comprised of both hourly and salaried workers focused on achieving continuous improvement in behavior-based safety at their individual operations. These teams meet with operations leadership and members of Arch’s senior management team annually to report on their successes, explore areas for potential improvement, and refine their plans for the coming year. Beyond regularly scheduled training, preparation is essential to an effective and timely response in the event of a crisis. We measure the effectiveness of our preparation efforts — which include mine rescue teams, fire brigades and a yearly Mine Emergency Response Development (MERD) exercise — through annual site evaluations, where we also explore opportunities for improvement. The MERD exercises bring together national and state safety regulators, key personnel from Arch’s operations, and communications professionals, and create an opportunity for that diverse group to train and drill together in order to ensure a cohesive and effective response in the event a crisis ever occurs.

A Commitment to Safety Excellence


national and state
safety awards

Arch subsidiaries have won more than 50 national and state safety awards in past five years

While emphasis on at-risk behavior has resulted in further improvements in our safety performance, Arch has expanded its efforts to include procedures that have an elevated exposure to risk. Over the past eight years, our mining complexes have conducted Workplace Risk Assessment and Control (WRAC) evaluations. Participation in the WRAC process challenges employees who perform a job function regularly to conduct an in-depth, multi-level evaluation of the procedure in an effort to prevent the occurrence of future safety events. As potential hazards are identified, the group makes the necessary changes to the procedure, and those changes are documented and shared across the company. This type of evaluation provides employees with a forum to express potential risks they may encounter while completing their daily tasks — and to problem-solve as a team in order to adjust the procedure appropriately.

Arch’s operations maintain seven mine rescue teams that are highly trained in responding to a mining crisis. In the past five years, our rescue teams have achieved top finishes in local, state and national mine rescue competitions. Such competitions provide valuable opportunities to sharpen team skills, identify and adopt best practices, and gauge preparedness.

In addition, each of Arch’s underground mines is equipped with advanced rescue equipment, sophisticated communications and tracking systems, and underground refuge chambers equipped with oxygen canisters, water, food and other necessities.

Sentinels of Safety Award


Sentinels of Safety in past 10 years

The nation’s most prestigious national award for mine safety

In the past 10 years, Arch subsidiary operations have won nine Sentinels of Safety Awards, the nation’s most prestigious national award for mine safety, including the awards for the large underground and small preparation plant categories during 2020.

Recently, the Leer underground mine — the largest in Arch’s subsidiary portfolio — operated the entire year without a reportable incident. That’s an almost unprecedented achievement for an underground mine of Leer’s size and complexity. In total, the Leer mine operated more than 2 million consecutive employee-hours without a lost-time incident.

In addition, during 2020, the Leer mine captured the Milestone Safety Award — West Virginia’s top honor for underground mines — and both the Leer South and Leer South prep plant received West Virginia Mountaineer Guardian Awards for safety excellence.

On the surface side, the Black Thunder mine in Wyoming — the second largest coal mine in the United States — recently completed a full year of operation, and more than 2 million employee-hours worked, without a single lost-time incident. 

As part of Arch’s health and wellness programs, we offer a formal disease management program and tailored advice and coaching for a variety of health issues. In addition, company health fairs provide free health screenings for prevention and early detection.