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Mining Research Program

Our portfolio of research projects and contracts is based on analysis of surveillance data, customer/stakeholder input, and risk analysis/loss control.

Surveillance data show how workers are being killed, injured, or impaired. Customers and stakeholders identify their needs and the value of our products and services. Risk analysis techniques are used to assess low probability, high impact events such as mine explosions. While our top-level goal is to improve mining safety and health, this will only be achieved by eliminating fatalities, injuries, and illnesses. Accordingly, our Strategic Goals, based on these inputs, are:

  1. Respiratory diseases: Reduce respiratory diseases in miners by reducing health hazards in the workplace associated with coal worker pneumoconiosis, silicosis, and diesel emissions.
  2. Hearing loss: Reduce noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) in the mining industry.
  3. Cumulative injuries: Reduce repetitive/cumulative musculoskeletal injuries in mine workers.
  4. Traumatic injuries: Reduce traumatic injuries in the mining workplace.
  5. Mine disasters: Reduce the risk of mine disasters (fires, explosions, and inundations); and minimize the risk to, and enhance the effectiveness of, emergency responders.
  6. Ground control: Reduce ground failure fatalities and injuries in the mining industry.
  7. Surveillance and training: Determine the impact of changing mining conditions, new and emerging technologies, training, and the changing patterns of work on worker health and safety.

These same inputs also allow us to target research areas, set priorities, and assess impact. We then use an external peer-review process to evaluate our research proposals and ensure the scientific merit of our work.

Our goal is to ensure that our research portfolio responds to the greatest needs of our customers, that our work is of the highest quality, and that our limited resources will have the greatest impact. From mid-2005 until the end of 2008, the National Academies conducted an evaluation of NIOSH's research programs with respect to their impact, relevance, and future directions. The evidence package and final report for NIOSH's Mining Program can be found on that page.

Currently, our research projects cover the programmatic areas listed below. See NIOSH Mining Downloadable Publications for papers related to these programmatic areas.