risks are likely to become even more pronounced. The committee found that there are major knowledge gaps and technology needs in the areas of escape and survival, communications systems, and emergency preparedness and rescue. In addition, greater understanding and better prediction of strata control to prevent unanticipated roof collapse are essential for maintaining and improving worker safety. The funding context is that federal support for health and safety research significantly decreased about a decade ago, and has essentially remained constant since that time.
Recommendation: Health and safety research and development should be expanded to anticipate increased hazards in future coal mines. These R&D efforts should emphasize improved methane control, improved mine ventilation, improved roof control, reduced repetitive and traumatic injuries, reduced respiratory diseases, improved escape and rescue procedures, improved communications systems, and research to reduce explosions and fires. This should be coupled with improved training of the mining workforce in all aspects of mine safety. R&D should also be directed toward lowering the exposure of mine workers to hazardous conditions, particularly through expanded use of remote sensing and the automation of mining operations.
Most mining health and safety research by the federal government is carried out by the Mining Program at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Technology-related activities within the Mine Safety and Health Administration are limited to technical support and training services for its personnel and those from the mining industry. With NIOSH carrying out the research needed to improve mine safety and support MSHA’s regulatory role, these two agencies play a vital role in coal mine health and safety. The committee estimates that the enhanced health and safety program proposed here will require annual R&D funding of approximately $60 million, and recommends that NIOSH continue as the lead agency with enhanced coordination with MSHA and industry.
As mining extracts coal from deeper and operationally more difficult seams by both surface and underground methods, a range of existing environmental issues and concerns will be exacerbated, and new concerns—particularly related to greater disturbance of hydrologic systems, ground subsidence, and waste management at mines and preparation plants—are likely to arise. Inadequate understanding of post-mining strata behavior and the associated hydrologic consequences of mining in both surface and underground mines affects mine permitting, mine development, environmental mitigation, and post-mining land use, including use for waste management. Research offers considerable