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