TABLE 4-1 Recommendations for Research and Development in Health and Safety
• technology to alert equipment operators of the existence and location of obstructions (such as equipment, berms, miners)
• design specifications for automated operation in the mining environment that enhance robustness and reliability
• miner-training programs to address special hazards that are created by the introduction of automated systems
• identification and elimination of workplace hazards introduced by new chemicals and bioagents
• identification of workplace risk factors that lead to musculoskeletal disorders (e.g., low back pain) and the design of equipment and training programs to eliminate them
• technology for assessing health and safety conditions in mine atmospheres; monitoring equipment that can distinguish the sources of airborne pollutants (blasting, diesels, oxidation, cutting); an instrument that can reliably measure the amount of diesel particulate matter; instruments that can accurately measure real-time personal exposures, particularly exposures to airborne respirable coal-mine dust
• determination of the health effects of mixed mode exposures in mine environments
• new materials and technologies to reduce noise in mining equipment and systems
• linking of computer-oriented monitoring of conditions in mines with a safety information system and a rapid communication system to provide specific information in real-time to each miner
• virtual-reality training modules for miners and mining-equipment operators
reduce exposures to health and safety threats. At the same time, these advancements will certainly introduce new hazards and, in some cases, may exacerbate known hazards.
New monitoring and control systems could effectively address the mining-equipment and mine-system safety issues. Advances in industrial training technologies, for example, have immense potential for improving safety. Most of these advancements would be realized through intelligent combinations of sensors, analyses, visualization, and communication tools that will either eliminate a hazard or enable a miner to take rapid actions to avoid an emerging hazard. Several areas for research and development are identified in Table 4-1.