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Mining Safety and Health Research at NIOSH: Reviews of Research Programs of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Part I Programmatic Evaluation
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Mining Safety and Health Research at NIOSH: Reviews of Research Programs of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health 2 Description of the Mining Program The marked decrease in disasters, injuries, and illnesses in the mining industry is due to the work of many, including mining companies and their managers, unions and their representatives, equipment suppliers, and engineering service firms, as well as personnel in government and academic institutions. Government agencies and academics provide important input to the plan-do-check-act (or continuous improvement) control cycle. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Mining Program is the only federal agency doing health and safety research for the mining industry. This chapter provides a description of the overall Mining Program in the context of the evaluation flow chart (Figure 1-1). The first five major headings (Goal Definition and Project Selection, Inputs, Activities, Technology Transfer, and Outputs) correspond with boxes A-D, respectively, in Figure 1-1, although technology transfer is considered a subset of box C in that figure. The final major heading (Factors Affecting Relevance) addresses specific topics listed in the framework document (Appendix A) that may impact the program’s goal selection, impact, or relevance. Much of the information in this chapter was derived while evaluating the Mining Program’s seven strategic research areas, detailed in Part II, Chapters 8-14.
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Mining Safety and Health Research at NIOSH: Reviews of Research Programs of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health GOAL DEFINITION AND PROJECT SELECTION The Mining Program uses the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)-NIOSH “surveillance cycle” method of operation (NIOSH, 2005a). The use of surveillance data, stakeholder input, and risk or loss control requirements to define research priorities and set overall goals is still in a developmental stage. The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) is the primary collector and disseminator of fatality, injury, accident, and illness data, and the Mining Program consolidates, interprets, and disseminates the data and its own research findings. Based on research results, the Mining Program then makes recommendations to improve health and safety. In general, the maximum time frame for which the Mining Program sets goals is 15 years. Projects generally have lives of only 3 to 5 years, consistent with the time boundaries established for intermediate goals. MSHA fatality data, such as shown in Table 2-1, influence the Mining Program’s research agenda. Between 2000 and 2004, ground failure, powered haulage, machinery, explosions, and electricity accounted for nearly 90 percent of underground fatalities. Powered haulage, machinery, and slip, trip, and fall of miners accounted for more than 75 percent of the fatalities in surface mining. Other MSHA statistics include both non-fatal days-lost (NFDL), and non-fatal no-days-lost (NDL) injuries and illnesses. According to the MSHA 2004 public file, 81 percent of newly reported occupational illnesses arose from repetitive trauma (43 percent), hearing loss (21 percent), and dust-induced lung disease (17 percent) (MSHA, 2004a). The interests of the mining community, according to the Mining Program, include ground control, training, machinery and electrical safety, ergonomic practices, and blasting health and safety. Stakeholders identify the need to be responsive to impending or newly enacted regulations, and identify dust monitoring and control, noise-induced hearing loss prevention, diesel emissions control, and di- TABLE 2-1 Causes of Mining Fatalities (2000-2004) Underground Mining Surface Mining Event Percentage of Total Fatalities Event Percentage of Total Fatalities Ground failure 28 Powered haulage 37 Powered haulage 21 Machinery 25 Machinery 17 Slip, trip, and fall 14 Explosions 16 Electrical 10 Other 8 SOURCE: NIOSH, 2005a.
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Mining Safety and Health Research at NIOSH: Reviews of Research Programs of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health saster prevention and response as four areas of greatest need for Mining Program research. Low-frequency but high-severity events such as explosions deserve special attention in evaluating research needs. As shown in Table 2-1, explosions account for 16 percent of underground mining fatalities, but individual multiple-fatality events draw much attention. Ground failures, on the other hand, account for 28 percent of underground mining fatalities, but with fewer fatalities per event, receive less attention. Research is needed to assess the likelihood of high-severity events and to develop new measures for monitoring and control, given changes in mining conditions, methods, designs, and technologies. To enable comparison of disparate outcomes and events and aid decision making, the Mining Program uses a decision-making or project-selection hierarchy to rank the importance of specific events. The hierarchy, in descending order of importance, is as follows (NIOSH, 2005a): Incidents with multiple fatalities Permanent disability and/or disfigurement Serious or severe injury with long and/or painful rehabilitation Lost time and wage events Costly injuries not listed in the above categories Potentially dangerous incidents not resulting in injuries Hazards Using this approach, the Mining Program identifies respiratory disease prevention, hearing loss prevention, repetitive or cumulative musculoskeletal injury prevention, traumatic injury prevention, disaster prevention, and ground failure prevention as the areas of greatest research need (NIOSH, 2005a). The Mining Program also identified surveillance and training as a seventh research area. Strategic and intermediate goals with time-bound quantitative measures have been defined for each of these areas. Two recent NIOSH-sponsored studies by external groups on emerging mining technologies prioritize technologies requiring research attention (Peterson et al., 2001; NRC, 2002). Some recommendations in these studies address emerging health and safety issues and may influence the Mining Program’s goal setting decisions. Recommendations in these studies are discussed in Chapter 5 of this report. According to the Mining Program (NIOSH, 2005a), project selection begins with an intramural call for concept papers, which are evaluated for how well the needs of the program are met, the likelihood of success, and any potential impact. Proposals are subject to external peer review. Detailed funding proposals, following Department of
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Mining Safety and Health Research at NIOSH: Reviews of Research Programs of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Health and Human Services (DHHS) and CDC research grant protocols, are requested from the authors of the most promising papers. Pilot projects may be funded to determine the viability of certain promising concepts. INPUTS Funding and Personnel Resources The most important resource in any organization is its people. People provide the knowledge, skills, and creativity that make a whole greater than the sum of its parts. The committee reviewed human resource and funding allocations to determine how the Mining Program uses public funds. NIOSH requested a detailed evaluation of the Mining Program budget not be conducted. Funding for mining research at the U.S. Bureau of Mines (USBM) in 1995 was approximately $52 million, which included $10 million for advanced mining system research and $42 million for health and safety research. Funding for health and safety research was approximately $26 million when it was transferred to NIOSH. Mining Program total funding for 2005 was approximately $30.6 million, with discretionary funds amounting to $6.67 million (compared to $25.4 million and $7.52 million, respectively, in 1998). Table 2-2 shows the distribution of Mining Program funding and full-time equivalents (FTEs) for 2005 among its research areas and strategic goals. Table 2-3 shows the percentage change in funding levels and FTEs in 2005 compared to 1998. The annual increase in funding was only $1.7 million, between 1998 and 2004, limiting the amount of discretionary funds available to the mining program. In 2005, however, there was a $3.6 million increase in funding, allowing the discretionary budget, which had decreased from the initial $7.5 million to $3.4 million in 2004, to increase to $6.6 million. The four traditional areas of mining health and safety research—respiratory disease prevention, traumatic injury prevention, ground failure prevention engineering, and disaster prevention—account for more than 56 percent of funding, 60 percent of FTEs, and 70 percent of projects. Problems in these four areas are as old as mining itself and have commanded tremendous attention in the past. The data in Table 2-3 show a major realignment of funding and FTEs between Mining Program research areas. The table indicates an 8 percent decrease in personnel (the equivalent of 23 FTEs) between 1998 and 2005. The decrease in funding and FTEs in the “multiple goals” category may be indicative of the redistribution of resources to other, more specific goals. Decreases in FTEs in disaster prevention (from 56 to 38) and traumatic injury (from 70 to 37) are quite large and may be partially due to attrition.
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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 2-2 Distribution of NIOSH Mining Program Funding and FTEs Among the Strategic Goalsa Discretionary Funds Strategic Goal Funding Amount (million dollars) Percentage of Funding FTEs Percentage of FTEs No. of Projects Percentage of Projects Amount (thousand dollars) Percentage of Funding Respiratory disease prevention 4.6 15 38 14 14 20 1,117 17 Noise-induced hearing loss prevention 3.1 10 25 10 7 10 855 13 Repetitive or cumulative musculoskeletal injury prevention 2.0 7 20 8 4 6 150 2 Traumatic injury prevention 4.1 13 37 14 11 15 660 10 Mine disaster prevention and control 3.9 12 38 14 14 20 480 7 Ground failure prevention 4.8 16 46 18 11 15 647 10 Surveillance, training, and intervention effectiveness 3.6 12 30 11 10 14 951 14 Multiple goalsb 4.5 15 28 11 — — 1,805 27 Total 30.6 100 262 100 71 100 6,665 100 aAmounts and percentages have been independently rounded to the nearest numbers as appropriate. bMultiple goals represent funding for projects and facilities that serve more than one strategic goal. For example, the Lake Lynn Laboratory facilities are used by investigators from the disaster prevention, rock safety engineering, and training groups. SOURCE: Created from data in NIOSH, 2005a.
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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 2-3 Changes in Funding and FTEs in 2005 in Relation to 1998 Levels Percentage Increase Strategic Goal Funding FTEs Respiratory diseases 83 27 Hearing loss 186 178 Cumulative musculoskeletal disorders 67 25 Traumatic injuries −21 −47 Disaster prevention −8 −32 Rock safety engineering 29 −4 Surveillance and training 131 50 Multiple goals −24 −22 Total 20 −8 SOURCE: Data from NIOSH, 2005a. Loss of experienced personnel in the near future may create major voids in some research areas. There has been a critical shortage of mining safety and health research professionals for more than a decade (Watzman, 2004), particularly in specialized areas such as explosions, fires, and rescue and recovery research. The committee is concerned the knowledge and experience needed to conduct high-quality disaster prevention research may be compromised without timely hiring and training of new personnel. Increased funding for respiratory disease prevention research is appropriate in view of emerging issues associated with diesel particulate matter in coal, metal, and nonmetal mines and activities associated with use of the personal dust monitor (discussed in Chapter 8). The growing recognition of issues associated with noise-induced hearing loss, work-related musculoskeletal disorders, and a need for increased surveillance and documentation of hazards in mining results in increased demand for research in these areas (discussed further in Chapters 9, 10, and 14, respectively). There is also a demand for dissemination and training research as mining technologies change, workers are faced with more or different hazards, and the aging workforce is being replaced with inexperienced miners. Facilities Committee members visited Mining Program facilities at the Pittsburgh Research Laboratory (PRL), the Lake Lynn Laboratory (LLL), the Spokane Research Laboratory (SRL), and the Missile Test Site (MTS). The committee was given an overview of important research facilities and equipment, and brief descriptions of
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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 projects. This review encompasses only the most important laboratories and equipment observed by the committee. PRL is a large research complex that has been in place since the founding of the USBM. It has large-scale equipment and specialized laboratory facilities for research, development, and testing purposes, as well as an experimental mine and a safety research coal mine. Among the notable safety research facilities at PRL are the mine roof simulator, the servo-controlled MTS Systems Corporation load frame, the human performance research mine, and motion analysis capture system. LLL consists of an old surface quarry and underground limestone mine leased by the USBM in 1982. There are extensive facilities for conducting major explosion, fire, ventilation control, emergency escape, and training procedures research. Other research involving practices and full-scale equipment can also be performed. NIOSH is exploring the feasibility of purchasing this facility. The continued and permanent availability of the LLL facility should be pursued. SRL has been in place since 1951 when the USBM moved its Northwest Region’s Mining Division to Spokane. Being close to the deep hard rock mines in the Northwest, SRL’s focus had been on ground control problems in those mines, but now encompasses a broader range of mining health and safety topics. Among the notable facilities at SRL are the seismic laboratory, the soil-rock properties laboratory, and the human factors engineering laboratory. The MTS facility, located about 20 miles west of Spokane, originally a U.S. Department of Defense missile launch location, is a well-secured complex with underground and surface buildings surrounded by adequate space to accommodate large equipment and large-scale mining research. The dynamic materials testing laboratory with a split Hopkinson pressure bar for measuring dynamic strengths in close proximity to explosive forces is located at this site. The health laboratory facilities at both PRL and LLL are excellent and world class. The Mining Program has excellent facilities for research on noise-induced hearing loss prevention. The equipment and physical infrastructure for acoustics research are excellent. Most notable are the National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program (NVLAP) accredited, 1,300-m3 reverberation chamber and a new 1,300-m3 hemi-anechoic facility, both of which are large enough to test full-size underground mining equipment. Facilities for continuous miner and longwall dust control studies and dust and diesel exhaust measurement instrumentation are recognized as among the best in the world by the committee, universities, and industry, based on the uniqueness of the facility and the fact that the facility is used by researchers from the United States and abroad. An industrial hygiene laboratory at SRL contains varied equipment needed for industrial hygiene field investigations and projects. The chemistry laboratory at SRL contains an inductively coupled plasma (ICP) spectrometer.
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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 Mining Program also owns large mining equipment (continuous miner, roof bolter, and conveyor sections) to perform laboratory-scale research. Facility improvements and acquisition of high-quality testing equipment have increased its research capacity. Tests can now be conducted under better-controlled conditions. Given that discretionary funding is approximately 20 percent (Table 2-3), the Mining Program has made great progress with available resources. It is worth noting that some Mining Program contributions to safe equipment design, mine design practices and procedures, operational guidelines, and measuring instruments would not have resulted without its access to unique research facilities. With respect to safety research, ground failure prevention research facilities at PRL, particularly the Mine Roof Simulator, are regarded as having contributed to a better understanding of the interaction of mine roof and supports and to the development of more effective roof support design. The facilities at LLL are used by external investigators from the United States and abroad. The ability to conduct full-scale tests to study the initiation, propagation, and control of explosions and fires is unique. The facilities for ergonomic and human factors engineering research at both PRL and SRL are unique and provide state-of-the-art, real-time monitoring and analysis systems for greater safety at the workplace. The seismic and dynamic testing laboratories at SRL and MTS are also unique facilities for studying ground control problems arising from improper understanding and application of explosive forces. The Mining Program conducts research for several projects in cooperation with mining companies and equipment manufacturers using the mines of participating companies as laboratory facilities. The ability to do mine-scale research is particularly advantageous, and research results are transferred quickly to participating mines. Another advantage of this arrangement is the research infrastructure for future on-site research is in place. The combination of traditional laboratory equipment, large-scale permanent facilities, and ready access to working mines is regarded by the committee as a particular strength of the Mining Program, allowing the program to conduct research at all scales under realistic conditions. With the rapid advancements in the technology of automated data acquisition and processing, it is a challenge to keep laboratory facilities modern and maintained. The committee recognizes the limited discretionary funds available to the Mining Program. Unless adequate funds are set aside for maintenance and upkeep of the Mining Program’s unique facilities, deterioration could impede NIOSH research capability. Stakeholders and Stakeholder Input to the Committee Stakeholders are a major source of external review and input into the Mining Program process. The Mining Program has partnerships and links with 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 international mining research and development institutions, university researchers, professional and industry organizations, unions, and state and other federal agencies. To get viewpoints from as broad a range of stakeholders as possible, a letter requesting input regarding Mining Program relevance and impact was sent to stakeholders identified by NIOSH, as well as to professional organizations, state regulatory entities and associations, pertinent members of the National Academy of Engineering and to individuals identified by committee members. Responses could be phoned in to National Academies staff or sent to the committee by mail, e-mail, fax, or the committee’s anonymous online comment form accessible via the National Academies and NIOSH web sites. The committee requested NIOSH provide information regarding the link to NIOSH employees. The committee heard from representatives of mining companies, labor, equipment manufacturers, individuals who provide training services, and federal and state government agencies having jurisdiction over some aspect of health and safety in the mining industry. The Mining Program and MSHA The 1977 Federal Mine Safety and Health Act created the Mine Safety and Health Administration in the Department of Labor to carry out the enforcement, rulemaking, training, and technical assistance functions of the act. MSHA is a major NIOSH stakeholder and supports Mining Program objectives. With regard to NIOSH and MSHA, the 1977 act specifically states (Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977, P.L. 91-173, as amended by P.L. 95-164, Title I, Section 101(a)(1)): When the Secretary [of Labor] receives a recommendation, accompanied by appropriate criteria, from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health that a rule be promulgated, modified, or revoked, the Secretary must, within 60 days after receipt thereof, refer such recommendation to an advisory committee…, or publish such as a proposed rule…, or publish in the Federal Register his determination not to do so, and his reasons therefor. Although the Mining Program and MSHA serve different roles within their respective organizations, their objectives are the same: to eliminate workplace threats to miner health and safety. External factors affect both MSHA and NIOSH, including the political environment, mining technologies and conditions, and major mine incidents or disasters. The intent of relevant statutes seems to be that NIOSH play a significant role in researching solutions to health and safety problems and MSHA take timely action on recommendations from NIOSH. MSHA serves a vital role in the transfer of Mining Program outputs to the mining industry. Through its enforcement process, MSHA generates a comprehensive database of mine-specific data that inform the mining community of problems on all scales.
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Mining Safety and Health Research at NIOSH: Reviews of Research Programs of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Based on a committee review of minutes from the last several MSHRAC meetings, and the fact that MSHRAC has not met for 2 years (as of May 2006), it is apparent that its great potential has not been fully utilized. MSHRAC’s role appears to be largely informational rather than advisory. The committee believes MSHRAC could provide useful feedback to the Mining Program on all aspects of the research program, including evaluation of its relevance and impact, establishing objectives, identifying emerging targets for research, and effective application of research resources. Intra-NIOSH Interactions The Mining Program interacts with some NIOSH cross-sector (hearing loss, respiratory disease) and sector (construction) research programs. These are natural allies. The appointment of a single manager for both the Mining and the Construction Programs was described during a presentation by the director of NIOSH as a starting point for improving intra-agency interaction, although it was also pointed out that the programs remain separate and distinct. The Mining Program would benefit from increased interaction with other NIOSH programs including those within the Division of Respiratory Disease Studies, the Division of Safety Research, and the Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations, and Field Studies. Based on written responses to direct committee questions (NIOSH, 2006b), there is “little” or “no” interaction between the Mining Program and 8 of the other 22 NIOSH research programs, “moderate” interaction with 5 programs, and “strong” interaction with the 9 remaining programs. The nature of the interactions was not made clear. For example, there have been NIOSH-recommended exposure limits for at least four hazards with direct relevance to mining (respirable coal mine dust, silica, noise, and nitrogen dioxide), but it is unclear how the Mining Program interacts with programs developing the recommendations. The potential for interaction has been enhanced with the 2006 reorganization of the NIOSH program portfolio into NORA sector and cross-sector programs.1 Similar research is now grouped into a sector- or cross-sector based program with discrete strategic goals understood agency wide. Because researchers should be fully occupied with their own research and development activities, management needs to be responsible for identifying where interactions would be beneficial. 1 See http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/NORA/default.html for the rationale behind the switch to this organizational system.
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Mining Safety and Health Research at NIOSH: Reviews of Research Programs of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Surveillance Inputs NIOSH (http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/surveillance/default.html) defines surveillance as the systematic, ongoing collection and or acquisition of information on occupational diseases, injuries and hazards; analysis and interpretation of surveillance data; dissemination of data or information derived from surveillance to appropriate audiences for prevention and control; and development of surveillance methodology. The committee considers surveillance a major activity of any health and safety program. It is not limited to disease observation, but includes all manner of data and information gathering pertinent to achieving the program strategic goals. Surveillance data acquisition, analysis, interpretation, and dissemination of results are all important for an effective program. The Mining Program uses data collected by MSHA (per 30 CFR Part 50) extensively. All mining-related accidents are reported to the MSHA district manager who decides if an investigation is warranted. In the case of accidents involving fatalities and injuries, or incidents involving, for example, ignitions, fires, or inundations, MSHA conducts an investigation and issues a report. Because of the availability of these data, the NIOSH Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) program does not investigate fatalities in mining. The Mining Program does not conduct its own sentinel event2 field investigation activities; instead, it relies entirely on MSHA reports on fires and explosions to identify potential issues. The Mining Program also obtains data through the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The program has access to the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries database and the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses. Data from these sources are useful for comparative studies of mining and non-mining occupations. Other NIOSH programs provide surveillance data to the Mining Program, for example, surveillance data on coal worker’s pneumoconiosis (CWP) collected by the NIOSH Division of Respiratory Disease Studies (DRDS) under the 1977 Mine Health and Safety Act. In the course of conducting specific research, Mining Program investigators have collected their own limited surveillance data on dust, diesel particulate matter, and noise exposure, and on musculoskeletal disorders. These data serve several functions, including validating research hypotheses and measuring the effectiveness of control actions. Because the data is collected to meet specific research needs, their use is limited in a broader context. NIOSH also conducts surveillance through its Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) program. An HHE is a workplace study conducted on the basis of a specific request 2 A sentinel event is an unexpected, or risk of an unexpected, death or serious physical or psychological injury.
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Mining Safety and Health Research at NIOSH: Reviews of Research Programs of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to assess potential worker exposure to hazardous materials or conditions. Over the past 28 years, there have been approximately 32 HHEs related to mining operations, although only one in the last decade. That HHE, conducted at the request of the United Mine Workers of America, involved an assessment of health effects associated with exposure to a hydraulic fluid emulsion used in longwall shields. A proposed HHE studying underground coal mine worker exposure to hydrogen sulfide will involve the Mining Program, and contribute to the ultimate development of engineering solutions. Sole reliance on MSHA data is not good under all circumstances, because MSHA data collection is collected for enforcement purposes. Surveillance techniques employed may not be appropriate for specific research purposes. ACTIVITIES The Framework Committee defines activities as “the efforts and work of the program, its staff, and its grantees and contractors” and suggests separately evaluating research and transfer activities. Mining Program activities are the subject of detailed evaluation in Chapters 8-14 of this report and are not described here. Acknowledgment by peers from other government agencies and larger professional circles gives some indication of the relevance of Mining Program research and projects. In the last 10 years, several investigators from PRL and SRL have won prestigious awards for their publications and research accomplishments. In addition to recognition from the Federal Executive Board, U.S. Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and NIOSH, awards have come from professional and technical societies such as the Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration; the American Society of Civil Engineers; the Mine Ventilation Society of South Africa; the Society of Automotive Engineers; the American Rock Mechanics Association; the National Society of Professional Engineers; the American Industrial Hygiene Association; the American Road and Transport Builders Association; and the International Society of Mine Safety Professionals. Products of the Mining Program have garnered several R&D 100 Awards (recognition as one of the 100 most important research innovations of the year) from R&D Magazine. The awards cover research in respiratory disease prevention, traumatic injury prevention, ground failure prevention, mine disaster prevention, musculoskeletal disorder prevention, surveillance and training, and technology transfer. TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER Resources for technology transfer activities are limited. Increased funding to determine the most effective research to practice (r2p) strategies would aid resource
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Mining Safety and Health Research at NIOSH: Reviews of Research Programs of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health allocation for transfer activities. The r2p program involves a translational process, whether the object to be translated is a complex technology, a procedure or work technique, conceptual (principles) knowledge, or practical (how-to) knowledge that can be embedded in informational products. For many problems in the United States, the state of the science (what researchers collectively know about solutions to a given problem) and the state of the art (what industry and other practitioners collectively do to help their members or constituents with a given problem) coexist more or less autonomously, each realm of activity often having little effect on the other. This situation has been referred to as a “quality chasm” by the Institute of Medicine (IOM, 2001), a “problem of translation” by the National Cancer Institute and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (Kerner et al., 2005), and a challenge of “going to scale” by health policy entrepreneurs (Berwick, 2003). Government agencies and philanthropic organizations have tended to see the closure of evidence-practice gaps as a problem of doing dissemination, that is, of distributing information about research results through familiar communication channels such as conferences, workshops, continuing education, proceedings, articles, and increasingly, web sites. A different route to redressing evidence-practice gaps is funding research about dissemination, or what in certain federal agencies is termed translational research (Dearing et al., 2006). In the U.S. industrial and commercial sector, money committed to research and development is dwarfed by investments made to move products and services to the marketplace and consumers. Typically, more than 66 percent of total project costs are spent in packaging, marketing, distribution, and sales support (Kotler and Roberto, 1989). The Mining Program FY 2005 intramural budget was $30.7 million. The money committed to r2p for that same year in mining was approximately $1.25 million. A large proportion of NIOSH resources, as is common for federal agencies, goes to research, with a correspondingly low percentage (about 3 percent) going to ensure that NIOSH-developed and supported innovations benefit mining safety and health. The committee suggests that more funding be dedicated to learning which r2p strategies are most effective in translating the products of NIOSH work to industry. Alternatively, partnerships could be developed to provide industry funding and support for research on translation strategies, which would also help ensure appropriate industry participation in this process. In other countries, especially Australia, industry-funded programs have greatly expanded academic and government efforts in mining health and safety (e.g., CRCMining [an industry-government funded Cooperative Research Center] and the Australian Coal Association Research Program).
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Mining Safety and Health Research at NIOSH: Reviews of Research Programs of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Extramural Research The extramural research program within the Mining Program is relatively new and small. Currently, extramural research funding accounts for approximately one-third of NIOSH research overall, but only a small fraction of the Mining Program (NIOSH, 2006a). A total of 28 grants have been awarded since 1998. These grants were selected on the basis of two mining-specific requests for applications (RFAs) encompassing high-priority areas of mining and an additional general RFA from NIOSH. At the request of NIOSH, the committee did not review the extramural research program, but it recommends a review be conducted. Extramural investigations encompass epidemiology, health effects, engineering controls, and technology transfer and training. Two technology transfer and training projects (1999-2004, 2005-2009) are the largest extramural projects and amount to approximately $1 million of the Mining Program budget per year. The minutes of the July 2003 MSHRAC meeting suggest these programs require focus. The Mining Program also funds a limited amount of contract research from its intramural program. There have been seven projects in the past 5 years, totaling approximately $2 million. The committee is not able to determine the success of the extramural programs based on information received from the Mining Program. OUTPUTS Outputs, as described by NIOSH and the Framework Committee, include recommendations, reports, publications, workshops, databases, and conferences. They may be presented as, among other things, training and education materials, demonstration programs, tools and methods, best practices or technologies developed, and licenses and patents. Quality outputs lead to desirable outcomes. An intermediate outcome reflects an assessment by stakeholders outside NIOSH (e.g., mine operators) of the worth of NIOSH research and/or its products and provides evidence of NIOSH output being put into practice. Some outputs are intended for use by researchers, engineers, scientists, and academics; others are translated more explicitly so that their content or format is more understandable, relevant, attractive, or involving for nonscientific users, including miners, mine managers, equipment operators, consultants, industry vendors, specialty and mass media journalists, and elected officials. All outputs are direct evidence of NIOSH work. Some activities such as collaborations can also legitimately be conceptualized as outputs, because the collaboration itself is a result of NIOSH efforts. Cooperation, coordination, more intensive collaboration, and eventual formal partnering can be considered important outputs leading to desirable intermediate outcomes. Technology and knowledge transfer is greatly facilitated through such relationships.
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Mining Safety and Health Research at NIOSH: Reviews of Research Programs of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health It is possible to assess the quality of all types of outputs. Common metrics for assessing the quality of publications, for example, include journal impact factors that numerically score how often the articles in a journal are cited and bibliometric citation counts. Translated outputs such as videos, web sites, brochures, workshops, and new behavioral worksite routines may be tailored to communicate information most effectively to increase the likelihood of knowledge gained, attitude formation, action, and maintenance of a newly adopted and implemented innovation in practice. An indicator of the quality of a translated output is the extent to which the output design is based on systematic feedback from intended users. Summative results of user perception, understanding of learning objectives, and potential for adoption ratings (Dearing and Meyer, 1994) are other output quality assessment tools. Mining Program Outputs The Mining Program provided lists of outputs from 1996 to 2005 (NIOSH, 2005a). Outputs are identified by title, author, type, relevant citation, year of publication, and relevant strategic goal. Publications are classified by type, such as peer-reviewed or non-peer-reviewed journal articles, conference proceedings, NIOSH or USBM numbered reports, or Technology News articles. Nearly 5 percent are published in Technology News, a one-page flyer distributed by NIOSH, usually announcing a milestone in research, technology ready for transfer, or an opportunity for cooperative research and development. The annual output of the Mining Program has remained fairly stable over the last 10 years, varying from 110 to 176, for a total of 1,428 between 1996 and 2005. Topically, these concerned ground failure prevention (30 percent), traumatic injury prevention (20 percent), mine disasters (17 percent), surveillance and training (16 percent), and respiratory disease prevention (15 percent). Noise-induced hearing loss prevention and cumulative musculoskeletal disorder prevention are the topics of 11 percent. Some outputs encompass more than one strategic area and have been counted more than once. In terms of distribution by output type, officially published documents excluding web content and policy publications account for 82 percent (N = 1,175). Web content and policy publications account for another 2 percent (25) and 3 percent (40), respectively. During this same period, the Mining Program conducted 111 workshops, seminars, or open industry briefings, accounting for 7 percent of outputs. The remaining outputs consist of videos (20), training programs (18), software (8), patents (15), and standards (6). More than 51 percent of the publications are in conference proceedings. About 20 percent are in peer-reviewed journals. NIOSH or USBM numbered publications (e.g., Reports of Investigations, Information Circulars) account for about 11 percent.
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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 topical distribution of outputs is understandable in view of the previous discussion regarding the evolution of the Mining Program. A great deal of attention has been paid in the last 30 years to the problems of ground failure prevention, traumatic injury prevention, and respiratory disease prevention. The committee expects an increased number of outputs in noise-induced hearing loss prevention and cumulative musculoskeletal disorder prevention in future years, given the increased emphasis in these areas. The Mining Program appears to collectively direct its efforts toward the production of more and better research, essential to quality maintenance and recognition by international research organizations. Publications are the dominant output form, and conference papers and peer-reviewed journal articles dominate other less formal types of publication. Media and formats commonly used by nonscientists, non-engineers, and non-academics, however, are in little evidence. The Mining Program seems to focus less on outputs that are more directly applicable in the workplace. Further discussion of specific outputs is found in the detailed discussion of the program’s seven strategic research areas (Chapters 8-14). FACTORS AFFECTING RELEVANCE The Framework Document (Appendix A) directs the committee to consider a variety of factors while assessing the relevance of the Mining Program. These factors include the severity and frequency of risk factors, the numbers of workers affected by potential research outputs, the extent to which the program addresses the issues of gender and vulnerable populations, the extent to which the program addresses the needs of small businesses, the appropriateness of health effects versus intervention research, the structure and content of the program, and the consideration by the program of stakeholder input. The next sections discuss these factors. Vulnerable Populations The Framework Committee defines vulnerable populations as “groups of workers who have (1) biological, social, or economic characteristics that place them at increased risk of developing work-related conditions and/or (2) inadequate data collected about them. Vulnerable populations include disadvantaged minorities, disabled individuals, low-wage workers, and non-English speakers for whom language or other barriers present health or safety risks (see Appendix A).” The committee recognizes that certain groups in the mining population deserve special consideration from the Mining Program: Women. MSHA does not track the number of women employed in mines (Vanessa A. Stewart, MSHA, personal communication to Raja V. Ramani, January
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Mining Safety and Health Research at NIOSH: Reviews of Research Programs of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health 30, 2006), but according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, women made up approximately 7 percent of the domestic mining workforce in 2005 (BLS, 2005b). This figure does not distinguish office workers, mill and plant workers, and contractor workers from those working in hazardous mining conditions. The Mining Program does not currently conduct significant research targeting specific needs of the female mining population. Mine-related services and auxiliary operations. Large operations usually involve extensive surface facilities, including preparation plants, mills, shops, and yards. While mining health and safety research may have some general applicability to workers in these locations, the major focus of current research is generally on large coal mines. This is understandable based on the history of the regulatory environment, funding, and health and safety statistics. Health and safety issues for workers in mine-related services and auxiliary operations should be considered. Small mine operations. It would be worthwhile for the Mining Program to consider the specific needs of mine workers in operations with fewer than 20 employees. Approximately 83 percent of all miners in 2005 were employed in such operations (Phillip H. Nicks, MSHA, personal communications to Raja V. Ramani, June 2, 2006; see Table 1-2). Historically, this population has experienced a greater rate of injuries and fatalities than workers at larger mines (NRC, 1982), and it has been reported that the health and safety experience of small mines is somewhat poorer than that of larger ones (Lauriski, 2003). Although many mining health and safety problems and solutions may be the same for operations of any size, small operators may have less access to problem-solving resources (for example, engineering and operating expertise, training resources). It is important for the Mining Program to consider this factor when planning and conducting its research and disseminating its research findings. Contract workers Contractors are assuming an increasingly important role in operations such as drilling and blasting, materials handling, and servicing and repair, particularly in surface coal and nonmetallic mining operations. As shown in Figure 2-1, contractor hours increased from approximately 4 to 14 percent of the hours worked from 1984 to 2004, whereas the total hours worked (operator and contractor hours) in mines have decreased by 25 percent (MSHA, 2004a). Since contractor employees are often a more mobile group than regular employees, it is difficult to monitor and quantify their exposure to risk. Additionally, this population may not have ready access to training resources available to the traditional worker. The problem has many facets, not all of which can be addressed through research. Therefore, the Mining Program, MSHA, and industry need to work together to develop effective surveillance and control programs to account for the needs of this population. Retired workers. Many illnesses result long after chronic exposure and may
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Mining Safety and Health Research at NIOSH: Reviews of Research Programs of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health FIGURE 2-1 Number of hours worked by operators and contract workers in the mining industry from 1984 to 2004. Total hours represent the combined number of operator and contractor hours. SOURCE: MSHA, 2004a. not manifest themselves until some time after retirement. Retired miners should be regarded as a population with a potential for mining-related health problems or injuries, and the committee recommends efforts to monitor their health status after retirement. Although the Mining Program has indicated it does not identify “one population within the domestic mining community … as more vulnerable than another” (NIOSH, 2006c), the Mining Program is engaged in completing a National Survey of the Mining Population (see Table 14-2) that will ultimately enable the calculation of risk factors and experience-specific injury rates including those associated with vulnerable populations. The Mining Program is also an active participant in NIOSH’s efforts to study and respond to the needs of Hispanic miners for whom English is a second language. These factors indicate the Mining Program is making some effort to identify and eventually address the needs of these populations.
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Mining Safety and Health Research at NIOSH: Reviews of Research Programs of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Life Stage of Research: Causal Versus Control Research The Framework Document (Appendix A) makes the following recommendation to the committee regarding research relevance: As the health effects are understood, emphasis should shift to intervention research, and from efficacy to effectiveness to research on the process of dissemination of tested interventions. Gaps in the spectrum of prevention need to be addressed; for example, research on exposure assessment may be necessary before the next intervention steps can be taken. An understanding of this concept leads to what the Framework Committee calls the identification of the “life stage” of research. Because mining is an old industry, several major health and safety issues have been studied for a long time. The passage of health and safety laws, safer mine designs, a more knowledgeable workforce, and greater monitoring and control of operations from the health and safety viewpoint have resulted in tremendous reductions in incidents, injuries, and illnesses. It is important to define whether there is need for research to identify the problem’s cause or the problem’s solution. This is particularly true in the age-old areas of ground failure prevention, traumatic injury prevention, disaster prevention and control, and respirable disease prevention. Changing operating conditions or the introduction of new technologies may result in a lack of understanding of cause and effect. Advances in the ability to monitor physical agents and their safety and health effects may open up new areas for research on old problems. External Factors External factors are defined as forces beyond the control of the Mining Program that positively or negatively affect program results. External factors, as shown in Figure 1-1, can be considered input that affects program planning and execution. Examples of external factors affecting the Mining Program include the following: Industry-specific legislation. The passage of the 1969 and 1977 mine health and safety acts focused funding and research in a number of areas such as respirable dust, ventilation, electrical safety, and self-contained self-rescuer development. Examples of recent focused research include the development of a personal dust monitor, new miner training, mitigation of the growing hazards associated with larger and more powerful equipment and power sources, and reduction of noise-induced hearing loss at the workplace. Requirements for preventing noise exposures in mining were further strengthened by promulgation of 30 CFR Part 62 in 1999. Legislative backing for the implementation of new product designs, work
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Mining Safety and Health Research at NIOSH: Reviews of Research Programs of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health safety procedures, and guidelines developed by the Mining Program is of critical importance. Major incidents and disasters. Major mine incidents with disaster potential, and mine disasters (e.g., the Quecreek No. 1 Mine non-fatal inundation incident, the Sago Mine explosion disaster), have the potential to affect a research program by creating an urgent need to answer newly framed questions through research. A number of new research initiatives to support either temporary or proposed rules may result, and research priorities may be reordered. The Quecreek incident led directly to mine inundation and void detection research. The Sago Mine disaster has led to enhanced funding of research on in-mine communications and escape and survival research. Political environment. A supportive political environment is essential to the successful development and implementation of NIOSH technologies and recommendations. As a federal agency, funding for the Mining Program is decided annually. The political environment also contributes to the passage of legislation or the development of new regulations critical to the Mining Program and the successful implementation of its research outputs. Mining technology and conditions. Major shifts generally occur over an extended period. In the underground coal sector, for example, mines are deeper and shifting to larger panels and high-productivity longwall systems. The increased contribution of surface-mined coal to total production and the growing size of equipment also affect health and safety trends. The introduction of new lixiviants3 in hydrometallurgy and of bioagents to facilitate the leaching of metal may create new hazards (NRC, 2002). Changing demographics in mining are reflected in an aging workforce and an increasing number of contract hours. These changes bring with them the necessity and opportunity for innovation by mining companies, equipment manufacturers, and government agencies to protect the health and safety of miners. Market forces. In a free-enterprise society with many small producers, there is little control over prices. This is particularly true in the metallic sector and somewhat true in the coal and nonmetallic sectors. Long periods of depressed prices affect investment in research, new equipment, employment, and production. Spot increases in prices can lead to the opening of new mines or reopening of closed mines, with potential health and safety concerns. The mining industry experiences these forces in a somewhat cyclic, but not entirely predictable, manner. 3 A solution used to extract a soluble constituent from a solid mixture via washing.
Representative terms from entire chapter: