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Mining Safety and Health Research at NIOSH: Reviews of Research Programs of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Summary ABSTRACT The U.S. mining sector employs approximately 331,000 people but has one of the highest fatality rates of any U.S. industry. Fatalities, injuries, and disasters, although less frequent than in the past, continue to occur, and health concerns posed by gases, dusts, chemicals, noise, extreme temperatures, and other physical conditions continue to result in chronic and sometimes fatal illnesses. In the last three decades, improvements in mining technology, equipment, processes, procedures, and workforce education and training have resulted in greater safety and health. In conjunction with planned reviews of up to 15 of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) research programs, the National Academies convened a committee of experts to review the NIOSH Mining Safety and Health Research Program (Mining Program) to evaluate the relevance of its work to improvements in occupational safety and health and the impact of NIOSH research in reducing workplace illnesses and injuries. Relevance was evaluated in terms of the priority of work carried out and its connection to improvements in workplace protection. Impact was evaluated in terms of its contributions to worker health and safety. The committee was also asked to assess the program’s identification and targeting of new research areas, and to identify emerging research issues. Although responsibility for controlling workplace exposure to mining health and safety hazards lies with others, the Mining Program can be expected to contribute to reduction of these workplace hazards through its
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Mining Safety and Health Research at NIOSH: Reviews of Research Programs of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health research and information dissemination. The committee concludes research of the Mining Program is in high-priority areas and adequately connected to improvements in the workplace. A rating of 4 on a five-point scale (where 5 is highest) is appropriate. Contributions of the program to improvements in workplace health and safety during the period evaluated (1997 to 2005) are considered major in some areas (respirable disease prevention, traumatic injury prevention), moderate in some areas (hearing loss prevention, ground failure prevention), and likely in a number of areas (disaster prevention, musculoskeletal injury prevention). Mining Program outputs are evaluated, accepted, and incorporated into stakeholder operations, and training outputs find wide use in the industry. The Mining Program is moderately engaged in technology transfer activities. A score of 4 for impact is appropriate. To increase its effectiveness, the program should more proactively identify workplace hazards and establish more challenging and innovative goals toward hazard reduction. Interaction with other NIOSH programs should be increased, as should interactions with extramural researchers, and the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) when research needs are closely aligned with MSHA’s shorter-term and legislative requirements. Partnering with industry should be done more broadly such that research results can be more widely applied within the industry. The program should make better use of MSHA and other surveillance data, and work to make these surveillance programs more robust. A more strategic dissemination agenda is suggested that would incorporate training into the strategic goals of all research areas and explicit plans for transfer to small business worker populations. The committee concludes the NIOSH Mining Program makes essential contributions to the enhancement of health and safety in the mining industry. The ability of the program to expand its research and transfer activities in ways recommended in this report, however, is critically dependent on the availability of funding. It is predicted that the U.S. mining industry will be challenged to produce more than 1.8 billion tons of coal annually by the year 2030, compared to current production of 1.1 billion tons (Energy Information Administration, 2006). Aggregate (sand, gravel, and stone) industry production is likely to grow, and increasing metal prices and an increased demand for metals and nonmetallic minerals worldwide are also predicted. Increased demand and production will ultimately lead to new technologies—and new hazards—in the workplace. The continued occurrence of accidents, injuries, and illnesses in the mining industry requires continuous and vigorous research on the detection and elimination of hazards that threaten the health and safety of miners. Advances in mining practices and procedures have
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Mining Safety and Health Research at NIOSH: Reviews of Research Programs of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health greatly enhanced mine worker health and safety. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Mining Safety and Health Research Program (and the former U.S. Bureau of Mines) has played a large role in these improvements. Continued quality research by the NIOSH Mining Safety and Health Research Program (hereafter called the Mining Program) should take into account changing technologies, practices, and procedures in the mining workplace. In September 2004, NIOSH contracted with the National Academies to conduct a review of NIOSH research programs. The goal of this multiphase effort is to assist NIOSH in increasing the impact of its research in reducing workplace illness and injury and improving occupational safety and health. The National Academies agreed to conduct this review within the Division on Earth and Life Studies and the Institute of Medicine. A committee was appointed to develop a set of guidelines for use in the evaluation of NIOSH research programs. The evaluation criteria are presented in the so-called Framework Document (Appendix A). The Mining Program is the second program to be reviewed using the established guidelines. The National Academies organized an ad hoc committee to evaluate the Mining Program. The Committee to Review the NIOSH Mining Safety and Health Research Program reviewed the program to evaluate the relevance and impact of its research on workplace health and safety, as well as to identify significant emerging health and safety issues in the mining workplace. Specifically, the committee was asked (1) to assess the Mining Program’s progress toward reducing workplace illness and injury, providing numerical scores, on a five-point scale for both relevance and impact of the research (Box S-1); (2) to consider how well the Mining Program targets new research to areas most relevant to future improvements in workplace protection; and (3) to identify significant emerging health and safety issues in the mining workplace. The committee used the Framework Document criteria for its evaluation. The evaluation was based largely on an evidence package presented to the committee by the Mining Program (NIOSH Mining Program Briefing Book, http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/nas/mining/), on presentations made by program managers and researchers during committee meetings and site visits to multiple NIOSH facilities, and on oral and written communications from several stakeholder groups. The committee reviewed documents related to NIOSH and the former U.S. Bureau of Mines. As an aid to its evaluation, the committee theorized what an “ideal” mining research program would comprise and identified the major issues that such a program would address.
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Mining Safety and Health Research at NIOSH: Reviews of Research Programs of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health BOX S-1 Five-Point Scales Used for the Rating of Relevance and Impact Rating of Relevance 5 = Research is in highest-priority subject areas and highly relevant to improvements in workplace protection; research results in, and NIOSH is engaged in, transfer activities at a significant level (highest rating). 4 = Research is in high-priority subject area and adequately connected to improvements in workplace protection; research results in, and NIOSH is engaged in, transfer activities. 3 = Research focuses on lesser priorities and is loosely or only indirectly connected to workplace protection; NIOSH is not significantly involved in transfer activities. 2 = Research program is not well integrated or well focused on priorities and is not clearly connected to workplace protection and inadequately connected to transfer activities. 1 = Research in the research program is an ad hoc collection of projects, is not integrated into a program, and is not likely to improve workplace safety or health. Rating of Impact 5 = Research program has made a major contribution to worker health and safety on the basis of end outcomes or well-accepted intermediate outcomes. 4 = Research program has made a moderate contribution on the basis of end outcomes or well-accepted intermediate outcomes; research program generated important new knowledge and is engaged in transfer activities, but well-accepted intermediate outcomes or end outcomes have not been documented. 3 = Research program activities or outputs are going on and are likely to produce improvements in worker health and safety (with explanation of why not rated higher). 2 = Research program activities or outputs are going on and may result in new knowledge or technology, but only limited application is expected. 1 = Research activities and outputs are NOT likely to have any application. NA = Impact cannot be assessed; program is not mature enough. ASSESSMENT OF RESEARCH RELEVANCE AND IMPACT There has been a marked decrease in disasters, injuries, illnesses, and occupational diseases in the mining industry over the last several decades. This decrease is the result of many efforts including those of mine managers and workers, labor organizations, federal and state enforcement agencies, equipment manufacturers
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Mining Safety and Health Research at NIOSH: Reviews of Research Programs of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and suppliers, researchers, and others. Research and development are important components of the total Mining Program effort to make mines safer and healthier worksites. In assessing the contributions of the Mining Program to improvements in worker health and safety, the committee was asked to provide scores for both relevance and impact as per criteria in the Framework Document (Box S-1). On the basis of its review, the committee assigned a score of 4 for relevance and a 4 for impact to the Mining Program. In evaluating relevance and impact, the committee considered funding, resource allocation, number of employees, and the manner in which stakeholder input is obtained and incorporated into the research program. Program activities were considered in terms of their contributions toward achieving strategic goals and toward the quality and quantity of outputs. Particular attention was paid to the acceptance and use in the industry of developed technologies, guidelines, procedures, and training tools. The manner in which the Mining Program integrated surveillance, research activities, outputs, and technology transfer activities to achieve strategic goals was also considered. PROGRAM PLANNING AND STRATEGIC GOALS The seven strategic research areas identified by the Mining Program are (1) respiratory disease prevention; (2) noise-induced hearing loss prevention; (3) cumulative musculoskeletal injury prevention; (4) traumatic injury prevention; (5) mine disaster prevention and control; (6) ground failure prevention; and (7) surveillance, training, and intervention effectiveness. The program’s mission, according to the Mining Program Briefing Book, is to “eliminate occupational diseases, injuries and fatalities from the mining workplace.” Strategic and intermediate goals and performance measures have been established for each priority area. The Mining Program mission cannot be accomplished solely through what NIOSH terms “a focused program of research and prevention.” Workplace improvements are dependent on the ability to transfer research results into practice, but the Mining Program has no power to require or enforce implementation of its recommendations. External factors affect every aspect of the program, often preventing the realization of projected outcomes. A political climate favorable to the support of mining health and safety research and of the resulting recommendations is necessary. The level of annual funding for the Mining Program, specific appropriations to enhance research facilities, and additional funding for specific research areas are critically dependent on the input from several sources. These include industry, labor, the administration, and members of Congress. The Mining Program’s mission and goals are appropriate, but the Mining Program should establish more challenging, innovative goals and attendant
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Mining Safety and Health Research at NIOSH: Reviews of Research Programs of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health objectives. Strategic and intermediate goals should be stated more precisely, and performance measures should be tied more closely to goals. In some cases, the committee could not establish clear connections between specific projects and goals. Goals and priorities should be reviewed regularly for appropriateness. The Mining Program solicits proposals from internal researchers to initiate new projects. Although these researchers are recognized by their peers for their expertise, they may not have the breadth of knowledge required to develop multidisciplinary proposals encompassing multiple strategic goals, a direction the Mining Program should take to be more effective. At present, the Mining Program establishes research priorities primarily in response to stakeholder input or current events. This helps ensure the applicability of its research outputs. However, the Mining Program should take a more proactive approach to identifying and controlling hazards, including those that arise from changing mining conditions and technologies, thus eliminating the associated potential illnesses and injuries. Using surveillance data in combination with expanded external input to identify key priorities would help the Mining Program develop a more proactive approach to hazard identification and control. The establishment of more challenging goals, specifying associated objectives and activities, and taking a more proactive stance toward identifying and responding to mining hazards would propel the Mining Program along a strategic course toward becoming an ideal program for the future. EFFECTIVE INTERACTIONS The Mining Program should increase interaction with other NIOSH programs including the Division of Respiratory Disease Studies, the Division of Safety Research, and the Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations, and Field Studies. Ideally, research personnel with medical, epidemiological, engineering, geological, and industrial hygiene experience should work together as a research team to help address workplace issues including research about the organization of work. Program management should be more involved in envisioning worthwhile intra-and interprogram interactions. Additionally, full advantage should be taken of the NIOSH Mine Safety and Health Research Advisory Committee by adequately challenging it with substantial assignments. The advisory committee’s findings, conclusions, and recommendations should be considered more fully in the Mining Program’s decision-making process. Interaction with the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) should be enhanced in areas where research needs are closely aligned with MSHA’s legislative and shorter-term priorities. The committee recognizes the benefits of partnering with MSHA to improve miner health and safety.
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Mining Safety and Health Research at NIOSH: Reviews of Research Programs of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health The Mining Program should fully utilize outside technical expertise through a vibrant extramural and contract research program. Given the cost of developing expertise to conduct innovative research, the Mining Program should take advantage of external expertise through an extramural research program. The extramural program should include both externally initiated research and contractors working on NIOSH-initiated research. This approach has an additional benefit of producing highly trained personnel for the industry at large, as well as for its own program. Effort should be made to partner more broadly such that guidelines and processes are most relevant to the entire mining community. The Mining Program has an extensive list of partners within industry and academia. Partnering with specific mining companies is beneficial and key to technology transfer, but the committee is concerned that resources are directed toward developing solutions to problems that are site specific and not directly applicable through adaptations to the mining industry at large. The committee strongly believes the Mining Program should continue to develop international partnerships in the interest of contributing globally what technologies it can and to incorporate developments made internationally into the domestic workplace. SURVEILLANCE AND MONITORING The Mining Program should make better use of MSHA and other existing surveillance data and work to make these surveillance programs more robust. The Mining Program has access to a MSHA-maintained database of mining-related incident, injury, and illness data and conducts some surveillance on a project-specific basis. The committee considers the collection of surveillance data of utmost importance in monitoring mine worker health and safety conditions and in determining the effectiveness of Mining Program activities. An improved surveillance system would allow the Mining Program to evaluate intervention effectiveness, which should be incorporated into the strategic goals of all its relevant research areas. More robust and better methods of monitoring in situ safety conditions in mines should also be developed. Research is needed to minimize safety risk to underground workers and to evaluate the potential for damage to surface facilities such as dams, buildings, pipelines, and road cuts whose failure could cause injury to persons on or near mine property. Recent advances in remote sensing, telemetering, and diagnostic methods should be evaluated, improved, and made known to mine operators for timely detection and avoidance of underground and surface mine hazards.
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Mining Safety and Health Research at NIOSH: Reviews of Research Programs of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health OUTPUTS The Mining Program should place greater emphasis on outputs preferred by mining operators, miners, and other nontechnical users. TRAINING PROGRAMS AND TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER The Mining Program efforts in the area of technology transfer (NIOSH’s research to practice program), while commendable, are not proportionate to its efforts in the conduct of safety and health research. A good understanding of potential impacts of research outputs is necessary if recommendations are to be adopted by industry and guidelines and standards are to be promulgated by MSHA. While there is an appreciation of this fact, it is unlikely that the technology transfer processes in place will achieve the desired results. Much of the responsibility for technology transfer is in the hands of project researchers who cannot be expected to be expert in the technology transfer issues involved. A more proactive, aggressive, and strategic dissemination agenda is suggested, one that is informed by research about the diffusion of new technologies, processes, and practices. The Mining Program should determine the likely end users of its research results, and develop demonstration projects that show the feasibility and effectiveness of interventions. Just as the committee recommends that surveillance be incorporated into all relevant research areas, training should be incorporated into the strategic goals of all research areas. To improve training effectiveness, the Mining Program should determine the likely end users of its research results. Most Mining Program outputs are useful for small business, but plans for technology transfer of all project outputs should explicitly include how small business worker populations will be served. Fiscal year 2005 funding for research to practice in the Mining Program was less than 5 percent of the total budget. The need for dedicating adequate resources to developing a more knowledgeable workforce should be appreciated. Better and more focused methods of delivering outputs and documenting resulting intermediate outcomes are needed. Technology transfer activities should be sharpened with new programs and additional resources. New research in technology transfer is needed to determine the most effective ways to improve training procedures and practices and to transfer knowledge to achieve implementation and sustainability.
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Mining Safety and Health Research at NIOSH: Reviews of Research Programs of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health IMPACT IN THE WORKPLACE It is difficult to isolate contributions made by the Mining Program to the great improvements in health and safety in mining. Improvements are due to improved mine design, operational procedures, new equipment and technology, new laws and compliance, and educational assistance from MSHA and state regulatory agencies. The Mining Program has had influence in all these areas, but the extent of this influence cannot be quantified. When improvements in health and safety could not be directly attributed to the Mining Program, the committee considered the indirect influence of the program’s research and transfer activities. If program outputs and transfer activities could potentially impact the workplace, some credit for improvements was given. The committee also considered how to assess the contributions of long-standing research programs, some of which date back to the former U.S. Bureau of Mines. The process of moving research from concept to completion can be long, but the time to move from completion to widespread implementation can be even longer. The committee decided to consider some research predating the move of the program from the U.S. Bureau of Mines to NIOSH. Examples of health and safety improvements resulting from Mining Program efforts include the following: Respiratory disease prevention. Long-standing research has resulted in significant progress in bringing ambient coal dust concentrations below mandated levels. Data show the prevalence of coal worker’s pneumoconiosis has been decreasing for those employees of long tenure (>20 years), but stable for those of shorter tenure (Pon et al., 2003). The Mining Program and the Personal Dust Monitor Partnership are in the final stages of field evaluation of the personal dust monitor. There is general agreement among mine management, labor organizations, and MSHA that the personal dust monitor has great potential to assist the determination of control and evasive measures necessary to guard against high exposures in the workplace. Hearing loss prevention. Noise-induced hearing loss prevention is a recently renewed research area for the Mining Program. Surveillance projects are well directed toward relating exposures to noise sources, but impact data are unlikely to be available for many years. NIOSH has developed a mobile hearing loss detection lab that can be transported to any worksite to conduct hearing clinics for up to four persons at a time. Trained technical personnel administer hearing loss tests and provide feedback on results. This mobile lab has the instrumentation to perform a wide range of research tasks, and from all indications, it has been used extensively for educating miners on avoiding noise-induced hearing loss in the workplace.
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Mining Safety and Health Research at NIOSH: Reviews of Research Programs of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Ground failure prevention. The Mining Program has worked with operators and manufacturers to develop and test more than 40 new roof support technologies between 2000 and 2005. Computer software developed by the Mining Program to analyze pillar stability is now an industry standard and is used by MSHA and state regulatory agencies to evaluate mine permits resulting in safer longwall operations. Other projects such as roof surface controls are likely to produce safety benefits, but end outcomes have not yet been well documented. Cumulative musculoskeletal disorder prevention. The Mining Program has worked with the International Union of Operating Engineers to collect data on ergonomic-related factors for use in research on improved ergonomic design of mobile equipment. No data exist to document impact on worker health and safety, but several outputs, such as a low-height shuttle car seat design, a more ergonomically designed truck seat, and improved dragline work stations, have been incorporated in the workplace. The Mining Program has also developed a partnership with an operating surface coal mine to reduce work-related musculoskeletal disorders. The program provided guidance, direction, and training on customizing and implementing a sound ergonomic process. Outputs with value to stakeholders have been generated. It is often impossible to statistically document changes in behavior, or improvements in health and safety, resulting from Mining Program activities. Presentations to the committee, particularly from labor representatives, MSHA, and mining companies, revealed that the results from Mining Program outputs are being evaluated, accepted, and incorporated into operations. Training products are being used in the industry, and the Mining Program is engaged in technology transfer activities. The committee concludes that Mining Program research focuses on high-priority areas and is adequately connected to improvements in the workplace. The program is moderately involved in transfer activities. Contributions to improvements in health and safety in the workplace are considered major in some areas (respirable disease control, traumatic injury prevention), moderate in some areas (hearing loss prevention, rock safety engineering), and likely in a number of areas. Mining Program outputs are accepted and incorporated into stakeholder operations. Mining Program research and training programs are vital to continued improvements to health and safety in the workplace. TARGETING OF NEW RESEARCH To address the second part of its charge, the committee assessed the Mining Program’s progress in targeting new research to areas most relevant to future improvements in workplace protection by considering two factors: (1) the relevance
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Mining Safety and Health Research at NIOSH: Reviews of Research Programs of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health of current research and (2) the targeting of new research to areas most relevant for future needs. To a large extent, the Mining Program is doing research that is relevant to the present and future of the mining industry. Relevant and productive research depends on funding and other external factors, as well as on available expertise and facilities. Short- and longer-term needs should be considered when allocating resources to address current and emerging issues. Flexibility to respond rapidly to needs dictated by current events should be built into the Mining Program, along with greater ability to pursue paradigm-changing research. Notwithstanding, the program has included new research areas in its portfolio. New research in areas such as chemical hazards and improved communications and training, and expanded research in areas such as noise prevention, surveillance, and repetitive injury prevention, show that the Mining Program is, in a limited manner, addressing the needs of the future. EMERGING ISSUES To address the third part of its charge, the committee considered emerging issues that may affect future mine worker health and safety. The Mining Program should stay aware of pertinent current and emerging research, including research being done internationally, and be prepared to act on potential health and safety issues. Future workforce issues may differ from today’s, especially as older workers retire and a new workforce enters the industry. Issues of small-mine workers and the issues associated with increasing numbers of contract workers should also be considered. Continuing to work with industry, organized labor, MSHA, academia, and international partners will help the Mining Program determine future needs. Both internal and external peer review could be useful for selecting projects. The committee identifies workforce capacity and related issues as the most crucial of emerging issues the Mining Program should deal with, but the committee also considered the physical conditions to which the future mining workforce will be subject. Similar concerns were raised more than 30 years ago during a major revision of the research mission of the U.S. Bureau of Mines (Theodore Barry & Associates, 1972), but it should be noted that operation size, numbers of miners, and technologies in use are quite different today than in the past. Changes in the industry will result in a number of changes in the physical environment for the mine worker. As the mining industry becomes more automated, the Mining Program should be prepared to deal with issues associated with increased remote control and automated equipment and systems. Future mining is likely to be carried out under more difficult conditions and depths in excess of 600 m. Automation is often seen as a means of reducing exposure, but un-
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Mining Safety and Health Research at NIOSH: Reviews of Research Programs of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health foreseen consequences of automation should be identified. The Mining Program should be prepared to provide recommendations to safeguard health and safety as best strategies for mining deep resources are developed. Environmental and occupational hazards of deeper mines should be evaluated. Similarly, the health effects of mixed exposures, such as diesel exhaust, hydrocarbons, and noise, as well as the combined effects of mixed noise (continuous and impulse-impact) environments, need to be addressed. There is also the potential for an increase in radon-related illnesses given a resumption of uranium mining. As the United States increases its reliance on nuclear energy, the extent and effects of radon and radiation exposure in the presence of these other potential chemical agents should also be considered. Other emerging areas of concern include nanoparticles in mine atmospheres, the toxic effects of heat and noise, more physically taxing working conditions (fatigue and increased musculoskeletal disorders), extended shifts, escape and survival equipment, changing communication technology requirements, and the effects of new regulations. The committee is also very concerned about the future performance of the Mining Program itself. The Mining Program should seriously attend to workforce replacement issues expected within its own organization in the short term to ensure a supply of capable researchers as its older researchers retire. The mining industry has long been dealing with problems arising from gas, dust, heat, humidity, ground pressures, machinery, and electricity. There is a need for research that cuts across these issues. For example, as underground coal mine production increases, technologies need to be developed to limit emissions of methane and dust as well as to safely support larger roof spans. Health and safety problems should be approached in a systems framework that encompasses advances in monitoring and characterization technology and a greater understanding of cause-and-effect relationships. FINAL REMARKS The committee’s review has revealed several areas in which the Mining Program would benefit from self-examination and redirection. Recommendations are given throughout the report, and those that are applicable program-wide are synthesized in Chapter 7, and summarized in Box S-2. The Mining Program makes essential contributions to the enhancement of health and safety in the mining industry. It should take the lead in providing knowledge and expertise in discussions on improving mine health and safety. The ability of the Mining Program to expand its research in ways recommended in this report, however, is critically dependent on the availability of funding.
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Mining Safety and Health Research at NIOSH: Reviews of Research Programs of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health BOX S-2 Overarching Recommendations Below are a number of overarching committee recommendations. Recommendations are made throughout the report, and those applicable program-wide are synthesized in Chapter 7. Other recommendations related to specific Mining Program research areas are found in Part II (Chapters 8-14) of this report. Strategic Goals and Project Selection Establish more challenging, innovative goals and attendant objectives. Take a more proactive approach to identifying and controlling hazards. Interaction Effectiveness Increase interaction with other NIOSH programs. Enhance interaction with the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) where research needs are closely aligned with MSHA’s legislative and shorter-term priorities. Fully utilize outside technical expertise through a vibrant extramural and contract research program. Partner more broadly such that guidelines and processes are most relevant to the entire mining community. Outputs Place greater emphasis on outputs preferred by mining operators, miners, and other nontechnical users. Surveillance and Monitoring Make better use of MSHA and other existing surveillance data and work to make these surveillance programs more robust. Develop more robust and better methods of monitoring in situ safety conditions in mines. Technology Transfer and Training Programs Develop a more proactive, aggressive, and strategic dissemination agenda that is informed by research about the diffusion of new technologies, processes, and practices. Determine the likely end users of Mining Program products. Develop demonstration projects that show the feasibility and effectiveness of interventions. Include how small business worker populations will be served. Incorporate training into the strategic goals of all research areas.
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Mining Safety and Health Research at NIOSH: Reviews of Research Programs of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Emerging Issues Stay aware of pertinent current and emerging research, including international research, and be prepared to act on potential health and safety issues. Be prepared to deal with issues associated with increased remote control and automated equipment and systems. Be prepared to provide recommendations to safeguard health and safety as best strategies for mining deep resources are developed. Address the health effects of mixed exposures, such as diesel exhaust, hydrocarbons, and noise, as well as the combined effects of mixed noise (continuous and impulse-impact) environments. Consider the extent and effects of radon and radiation exposure in the presence of other potential chemical agents as the United States increases its reliance on nuclear energy. The Mining Program should seriously attend to workforce replacement issues expected within its own organization in the short term to ensure a supply of capable researchers as its older researchers retire.
Representative terms from entire chapter: