ties between 2010 and 2014, compared to the average yearly totals from 1990 to 2001 (NIOSH, 2005a). The Mining Program has also identified four intermediate goals and performance measures in this research area, summarized in Table 12-1. The committee assumes that the goals as stated are considered by the program as intermediate milestones toward its ultimate goal of the complete elimination of mining-related illness and injury.
This strategic goal is in alignment with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) agency-wide strategic goals to conduct research to reduce work-related illnesses and injuries.
The traditional hazards in the area of mine disasters are well known. Emerging hazards will arise as the production of resources enters into a higher level of geologic complexity. The strategic goal is in alignment with the major current challenges facing the mining industry including fire, explosion, inundation, and ground failure prevention. The overarching goal does not, however, mention enabling the miner’s ability to self-rescue, although it is a subcategory within intermediate goal 4 (Table 12-1). Prevention, response, and self-rescue are all of high importance in the inherently dangerous mining environment. This component of intermediate goal 4 would be more appropriate as a high-level goal. The intermediate goals are somewhat interrelated to achieving the ultimate goal, though they do not currently produce a strongly integrated program plan.
According to materials submitted to the committee by the Mining Program, major barriers to accomplishing this strategic goal include the following:
An incomplete understanding of the root causes of mine fires, explosions, and inundations;
The lack of totally effective engineering controls to prevent, detect, and mitigate mine disasters; and
The lack of education and training of the general mining workforce pertaining to methods to predict, prevent, and deal with a mine emergency.
Barriers not identified by the Mining Program include (1) the indirect relationship between the work of NIOSH and direct impact in the workplace and (2) an incomplete understanding of weather-related ignition sources.
Based on the discussion of the ideal mining program in Chapter 3, the Mining Program needs to continue its efforts in disaster prevention and further strengthen its efforts in the area of disaster response.