Coal mining (especially underground) is considered one of the most hazardous industries, and as a result considerable focus is applied to eliminating or mitigating hazards through careful mine planning, equipment selection and certification, and development of management systems and procedures. Regulatory agencies have developed in-house methods for reporting, classification and tracking of fatalities and other incidents according to the type of event, often including consideration of different hazard types. Unfortunately, direct comparison of mining safety statistics between countries is confounded by considerable differences in the way that individual countries classify specific fatalities or incidents. This paper presents a comparative analysis of coal mining fatality data in Australia, South Africa, India, China and the United States from 2006 to 2010. Individual classification definitions are compared between the five countries, and methods presented to normalise each country’s hazard definitions and reporting regimes around the RISKGATE framework of seventeen different priority unwanted events (or topics). Fatality data from individual countries is then re-classified according to the different RISKGATE topics, thereby enabling a comparative analysis between all five countries. This paper demonstrates the utility and value of a standard classification approach, and submits the RISKGATE framework as a model for classification that could be applied globally in coal mining. RISKGATE is the largest health and safety project ever funded by the Australian coal industry (http://www.riskgate.org) to build an industry body of knowledge to assist in managing common industry hazards. A comprehensive knowledge base has been captured for risk management of tyres, collisions, fires, isolation, strata underground, ground control open cut, explosions, explosives, manual tasks and slips/trips/falls. This has been extended to outburst, coal burst and bumps, interface displays and controls, tailings dams and inrush.