3
The Ideal Mining Safety and Health Research Program

The first step of the evaluation, as directed in Figure 1-1, was the independent committee assessment of the major components of an ideal mining health and safety research program. The committee considered separately the health research and safety research needs of the mining industry. Surveillance was considered vital in all research categories, but for the sake of this exercise, the committee included it within discussions regarding health research. Similarly, training and technology transfer are important in all research categories, but the committee considered them during discussions on safety research.

This chapter summarizes the committee’s deliberations regarding the ideal mining safety and health research program. The first section describes the components of an overall ideal program. The next sections reflect the committee’s assessment of mine worker health and mine worker safety research needs, respectively. Finally, a brief comparison of the ideal program to the existing National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Mining Program is made.

THE IDEAL PROGRAM

The mission of an ideal mining safety and health research program would be the complete elimination of mining-related illnesses, injuries, and fatalities. The program would be part of system that would include the parallel efforts of diverse organizations. Law enforcement, industry management, and labor would work to develop improved health, safety, and productivity procedures and processes.



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Mining Safety and Health Research at NIOSH: Reviews of Research Programs of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health 3 The Ideal Mining Safety and Health Research Program The first step of the evaluation, as directed in Figure 1-1, was the independent committee assessment of the major components of an ideal mining health and safety research program. The committee considered separately the health research and safety research needs of the mining industry. Surveillance was considered vital in all research categories, but for the sake of this exercise, the committee included it within discussions regarding health research. Similarly, training and technology transfer are important in all research categories, but the committee considered them during discussions on safety research. This chapter summarizes the committee’s deliberations regarding the ideal mining safety and health research program. The first section describes the components of an overall ideal program. The next sections reflect the committee’s assessment of mine worker health and mine worker safety research needs, respectively. Finally, a brief comparison of the ideal program to the existing National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Mining Program is made. THE IDEAL PROGRAM The mission of an ideal mining safety and health research program would be the complete elimination of mining-related illnesses, injuries, and fatalities. The program would be part of system that would include the parallel efforts of diverse organizations. Law enforcement, industry management, and labor would work to develop improved health, safety, and productivity procedures and processes.

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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 would be pursued intra- and extramurally by government agencies and by industry, academia, equipment manufacturers, and other parties. Technology transfer from other industries would be an important component of effective research and development. Designing mining systems of exceptional safety and reliability, developing a knowledgeable workforce well versed in safe practices and procedures, and monitoring mines through a system of enlightened laws and regulations are the “three essential E’s” (engineering, education, and enforcement) of a safe mining system. The committee classified elements of the ideal mining program into surveillance, health effects research, intervention research, technology transfer, and other transfer activities. Health services or other research dealing with access to occupational health care, while important, is not a major part of this mining research program. The program mission would be accomplished by setting realistic, stepwise strategic goals as milestones toward achieving its mission. Table 3-1 defines the five components of the ideal mining program and lists the research elements identified as necessary to fulfill its mission. The ideal program would include a large component of technology transfer and intervention effectiveness research to inform itself of the most effective ways of diffusing its research outputs to the mining industry and increasing stakeholder acceptance. To be comprehensive, the ideal mining research program must transfer its outputs to stakeholders in the most effective manner. Without an effective technology transfer program, the research may not contribute to the reduction of hazard exposures, injuries, and illnesses. HEALTH RESEARCH NEEDS Worker health continues to be a major issue in mining. An ideal disease prevention program includes identification of the cause of disease, exposure monitoring, exposure control technology development and implementation, and surveillance of disease progression, as well as intervention effectiveness research. Mining-related illness and disease are caused or aggravated by exposure to chemical or physical hazards, the most serious of which are chronic. Long exposure periods are required to contract the diseases, and equally long periods are necessary for surveillance and control. The committee includes respiratory disease (coal worker’s pneumoconiosis [CWP], silicosis, chronic obstructive lung disease, and lung cancer), noise-induced hearing loss, and musculoskeletal disorders associated with repetitive motion, awkward postures, and other physical stressors among the mining-related illness and disease requiring attention. To prioritize the goals of the ideal health program, the committee considered the prevalence of various mining health issues in different mining settings.

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Mining Safety and Health Research at NIOSH: Reviews of Research Programs of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health TABLE 3-1 Elements of the Ideal Mining Safety and Health Research Program Mission: Elimination of mining-related injuries, illnesses, and fatalities Program Component Definition Research Elements Surveillance The ongoing, systematic collection, analyses, and interpretation of health data essential to occupational health practice, coupled with timely dissemination of these data Outcome surveillance (mining injury and illness) Exposure to health and safety hazards Improvement of the data collection and surveillance system Health effects research Determination of the health outcomes of mining and related activities through study of individual miners, mining populations, and when necessary, cell and animal models Epidemiology Toxicology Physical exposure Heat Noise Vibration Radiation Other physical agents or actions Lab-based health and safety risk factor research Clinical screening Exposure assessment research Measurement of the extent of exposure of miners to physical and chemical agents Assessment tools Assessment strategies

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Mining Safety and Health Research at NIOSH: Reviews of Research Programs of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Program Component Definition Research Elements Intervention research Research encompassing all approaches to identify and control mining hazards Control technology Engineering controls and alternatives Administrative controls Personal protective equipment Emergency preparedness and response Communication Escapeways Refuge chambers Other Work organization Innovative work schedules Mine and mine population characteristics Other Policy and regulation research Alternative policies for health, safety, and associated regulations Community participation (mine workers and mining personnel) Diffusion and dissemination research Effectiveness training Effectiveness of information dissemination Diffusion technology Technology Transfer (and other transfer activities) Diffusion and dissemination research to ensure greater effectiveness in moving from research to practice; delivery of outputs to stakeholders Training progress Computer programs Reports and papers Workshops and seminars

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Mining Safety and Health Research at NIOSH: Reviews of Research Programs of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Table 3-2 lists the importance of specific mining hazards by commodity group, location, and type of activity. An overall assessment of the importance of each hazard is provided based on the committee’s opinion of prevalence. Table 3-2 indicates noise exposure and risk factors for musculoskeletal disorders are common in all mining sectors and are therefore considered of greatest importance. Airborne mineral dusts remain a very important hazard (coal mine dust in underground coal mines and silica dust throughout the industry). Diesel particulate matter is important in all underground mines that use diesel-powered equipment. Other hazards that occur less frequently include exposure to toxic chemicals and gases, heat stress, and ionizing radiation. Heat stress can be a problem at surface mines when workers are engaged in heavy physical labor on hot days under strong sunlight. Oxygen-deficient atmospheres can occur when oxygen is displaced by simple asphyxiants or consumed by aerobic microorganisms. SAFETY RESEARCH NEEDS In order to provide an objective standard for measuring the relevance of current and proposed NIOSH Mining Program research to mining safety research, the committee considered the broad range of safety issues faced by the mining community. The committee divided safety issues into those associated with traumatic injuries, mine disasters, and ground failures and considered, as it did with health issues, the prevalence of various safety issues in different mining settings. The ideal traumatic injury prevention program would include surveillance for hazards, fatalities, and injuries and the interventions designed for their control. Trends from 1994 to 2003 indicate good progress in the control of mining fatalities and injuries, but numerous fatalities and injuries were still reported in 2004 (MSHA, 2004a, 2006). Like Table 3-2, Table 3-3 rates the importance of specific types of traumatic injuries, based on the committee’s opinion of their prevalence in specific mining sectors and activities. The committee identified accidents involving electricity, ground falls, machinery, rain, and human factors as important areas of concentration. Slip, trip, and fall hazards are common in mining, but since considerable attention is paid to them by other NIOSH programs (e.g., construction), a higher rating was not assigned if relevant knowledge and technology from these other programs are transferred to the Mining Program. Hoisting, inundation, and entrapment are identified as greater hazards in underground mining, and the use of explosives is considered an important issue for surface and metal or nonmetal underground mining. The use of explosives in underground coal mining is not extensive, though explosives may be used for certain operations requiring safe handling and blasting practices.

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Mining Safety and Health Research at NIOSH: Reviews of Research Programs of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health TABLE 3-2 Committee Assessment of the Level of Importance of Mining Health Research Issues by Commodity Group, Location, and Type of Activity Issues Underground Coal Surface Coal Underground Metal Surface Metal Underground Nonmetal Surface Nonmetal (including aggregate, stone) Solution Mining Coal or Mineral Processing Waste Disposal Smelting, Other Overall Airborne respirable dust hazards                     Coal dust 5 3 — — — — — 5 — 4 Silica dust 5 5 5 5 5 5 2 5 — 5 Toxic metallic fumes and dust 1 2 3 3 1 2   3 5 2 Diesel particulate matter 5 3 5 3 5 3 2 1 1 4 Other aerosols and gases 1 1 3 1 2 1 5 2 5 2 Mine gases (excluding methane)a                     Toxic gases and control 1 or 5a 1 or 5a 1 or 5a 1 or 5a 1 or 5a 1 or 5a 1 or 5a 1 or 5a — — Hearing loss prevention 5 5 5 5 5 5 3 5 5 5 Chemical hazards 2 1 2 1 2 1 4 2 2 2 Radiation 1 1 2 1 2 1 1 1 1 1 Ergonomics                     Musculoskeletal disorders and back pain 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 Vibration (jolting and jarring) 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 Heat stress 1 1 4 3 1 2 1 1 4 2 Surveillance and sampling 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 aImportance will depend on the specific toxic gas and the available control technologies. NOTE: On a scale of 1 to 5, 1 = least important and 5 = most important. The importance of specific issues of concern for disaster prevention and response was rated based on committee opinion of prevalence in specific mining sectors (Table 3-4). The issues were divided into prevention and response. Three issues identified as being of greatest concern in mine disaster prevention are explosive dusts, explosive gases, and ignition sources. In terms of disaster response, communication, personnel tracking, and personal protective equipment (PPE)—particularly the self-contained self rescuer (SCSR)—are of prime importance. Table 3-5 summarizes the committee’s effort to identify issues in ground failure prevention. A few issues in this table, such as stress induced by solution mining and

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Mining Safety and Health Research at NIOSH: Reviews of Research Programs of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health TABLE 3-3 Committee Assessment of the Level of Importance of Injury Prevention Research Issues by Commodity Group, Location, and Type of Activity Issues Underground Coal Surface Coal Underground Metal Surface Metal Underground Nonmetal Surface Nonmetal (including aggregate, stone) Solution Mining Coal or Mineral Processing Waste Disposal Smelting, Other Overall Electrical accidents and injuries 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 Powered haulage (trucks) 5 5 5 5 5 5 — 5 — 5 Ground falls (e.g., roof, walls, ribs) 5 5 5 5 5 5 1 5 — — Slip, trip, and falls (miners) 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 Machinery (conveyors [caught-between, etc.]) 5 5 5 5 5 5 — — — — Explosives 2 5 5 5 5 5 — — — — Hoisting (elevators) 5 1 5 1 5 1 — — — — Materials handling 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 Inundation 5 3 5 3 5 3 — 2 — — Entrapment 5 2 5 2 5 2 — — — — Training 5 5 5 5 5 5 — — — 5 Knowledge 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 Skills 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 Motivation 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 Audiovisual 5 5 5 5 5 5 — — — 5 Classroom exercises 5 5 5 5 5 5 — — — 5 Virtual reality 2 2 2 2 2 2 — — — — Human factors (ergonomics) 5 5 5 5 5 5 — — — 5 Other (small mines) 5 5 5 5 5 5 — — — 5 NOTE: On a scale of 1 to 5, 1 = least important and 5 = most important. the stability of embankments, are not directly related to traditional surface or underground mining excavations. Three issues directly related to mining excavations identified as being of greatest concern are roof and rib integrity in underground mines, detection of voids in underground mines, and loose rock and mass slope movement in surface mines. Areas of greatest importance for future work include design methodology and better understanding of rock mass reactions. Mining occurs in an inherently hazardous workplace in which the heterogeneous geologic environment is not readily or precisely predicted. There are several

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Mining Safety and Health Research at NIOSH: Reviews of Research Programs of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health TABLE 3-4 Committee Assessment of the Level of Importance of Disaster Control Research Issues by Commodity Group, Location, and Type of Activity Issues Underground Coal Surface Coal Underground Metal Surface Metal Underground Nonmetal Surface Nonmetal (including aggregate, stone) Solution Mining Coal or Mineral Processing Waste Disposal Smelting, Other Overall Prevention                     Dust (explosive) 5 2 3 — 3 — — — — 5 Gases (including outbursts, CH4) 5 2 5 — 5 — — — — 5 Ignition sources (including natural) 5 — 5 — 5 — — — — 5 Mine planning and design (over, under) 3 3 3 5 3 3 — — — 3 New technologies (i.e., creation of finer dust) 5 5 5 2 5 5 1 2 5 3 Monitoring and detection 5 2 5 1 5 2 5 1 1 3 Seals and barriers 4 — 4 — 4 — — — — 2 Geologic or hydrogeologic setting (over/under, mine inundation) 4 3 — — — — — 1 4 4 Ventilation 4 2 4 — 4 — — 2 — 3 Workforce behavior and motivation 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 — — 3 Emergency response preparedness (including catastrophic risk assessment) 5 3 5 3 5 2 2 3 3 2 Blasting and explosives practices 2 4 4 4 4 4 — — — 4 Response                     Communication 5 — 5 — 5 — — — — 4 Personnel tracking 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 — — 4 Isolation 4 2 4 2 4 2 1 — — 2 Suppression (fire response and planning) 4 1 4 1 4 2 1 — — 3 Mine rescue 5 2 5 2 5 2 2 — — 2 PPE (SCSR) 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 — — 4 NOTE: On a scale of 1 to 5, 1 = least important and 5 = most important. unique hazards arising from operations associated with extracting and processing material from a geological formation. Predicting and controlling these hazards will make mines safer.

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Mining Safety and Health Research at NIOSH: Reviews of Research Programs of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health TABLE 3-5 Committee Assessment of the Level of Importance of Ground Failure Prevention Research Issues by Commodity Group, Location, and Type of Activity Issues Underground Coal Surface Coal Underground Metal Surface Metal Underground Nonmetal Surface Nonmetal (including aggregate, stone) Solution Mining Coal or Mineral Processing Waste Disposal Smelting, Other Overall Underground stability                     Roof and rib control 5 1 5 1 5 1 1 1 1 5 Extremely weak ground 4 1 4 1 4 1 1 1 1 4 Surface stability                     Loose rock 1 5 1 5 1 5 1 1 1 5 Mass slope movement 1 4 1 5 1 5 1 4 1 5 Design methodology                     Fundamental approaches (modeling, empirical) 5 5 5 5 5 5 3 3 1 5 Sensitivity to input parameters 5 5 5 5 5 5 3 3 1 5 Technology and technique issues                     Rock reinforcement (all types) 5 2 5 3 5 2 1 1 1 4 Mesh or geo-grid 5 3 5 3 5 3 1 1 1 4 Positive support (cribs, posts, cans, props) 5 1 2 1 2 1 1 1 1 3 Rock mass reactions                     Blasting damage 2 4 5 4 5 4 1 1 1 4 Induced stress 5 2 5 2 5 2 5 1 1 4 Cascading pillar failure 1 1 4 1 4 1 1 1 1 4 Voids                     Mine or natural void detection technology 5 2 5 5 5 5 3 2 1 4 Unique research needs                     Fault interactions 5 1 4 1 4 1 1 1 1 4 Large vehicle ground pressure 1 1 1 1 1 4 1 1 1 4 NOTE: On a scale of 1 to 5, 1 = least important and 5 = most important. COMPARISON OF THE NIOSH MINING PROGRAM TO THE IDEAL To a large extent, NIOSH Mining Program activities are directed toward intervention research, particularly toward developing engineering controls for mining hazards. With this in mind the committee assumes certain research falls outside

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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 domain of the Mining Program. Fundamental research (e.g., to determine appropriate permissible exposure limits) is vital and should be conducted elsewhere within NIOSH, though it is not clear to the committee what and where relevant research is currently being conducted. Surveillance, health effects research, and technology transfer activities are conducted by the Mining Program, but these constitute a small fraction of the overall effort. Surveillance is conducted as part of specific projects to document exposures and effects. Specific surveillance projects may be undertaken, such as the recently initiated demographic survey of miners and the investigation of chemical hazards in mining. Mining Program involvement in the areas of health effects research and health services is limited. It is evident to the committee that the Mining Program is an important research component of an overall system to improve health and safety in mines. Quantifying the impact of the Mining Program on industry health and safety improvements is a formidable task. However, without the contributions of the Mining Program, the efforts of others in the mining safety and health community may not be sufficient to result in rapid improvements in mining safety and health.