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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 researchof the Mining Program is in high-priority areas and adequately connectedto improvements in the workplace. A rating of 4 on a five-point scale (where5 is highest) is appropriate. Contributions of the program to improvementsin workplace health and safety during the period evaluated (1997 to 2005)are considered major in some areas (respirable disease prevention, traumaticinjury prevention), moderate in some areas (hearing loss prevention, groundfailure 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 outputsfind wide use in the industry. The Mining Program is moderately engaged intechnology 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 goalstoward hazard reduction. Interaction with other NIOSH programs should beincreased, as should interactions with extramural researchers, and the MineSafety and Health Administration (MSHA) when research needs are closelyaligned with MSHA’s shorter-term and legislative requirements. Partneringwith industry should be done more broadly such that research results can bemore widely applied within the industry. The program should make better useof MSHA and other surveillance data, and work to make these surveillanceprograms more robust. A more strategic dissemination agenda is suggestedthat would incorporate training into the strategic goals of all research areasand explicit plans for transfer to small business worker populations.
The committee concludes the NIOSH Mining Program makes essentialcontributions to the enhancement of health and safety in the mining industry. The ability of the program to expand its research and transfer activitiesin ways recommended in this report, however, is critically dependent on theavailability 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