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Mining Project: Improvements to Mine Escape Training

Project DetailValue
Principal Investigator
  • Robert H. Peters, NIOSH, 412-386-6895
Start Date10/1/2009

The purpose of this project is to ensure that suitable information exists for properly training underground coal miners on the appropriate procedures for escape from dangerous situations such as fires, explosions, and inundations.

Program Areas
Keywordsemergency response, training, underground mining

Research Summary

The long-term objective of this project is to increase underground miners' chances of surviving mine fires, explosions, and other emergency situations through improved knowledge and ability to escape. The specific aims of the project are to ensure that:

(1) Suitable materials exist for properly training coal miners to escape during mine emergencies.
(2) Mine trainers are equipped with tools (methods) to ensure miners are competent in emergency escape techniques. 

Recently enacted mine federal mine safety regulations require mine operators to provide coal miners with better equipment and training on how to survive a mine disaster. Since the coal mine disasters of 2006, several groups of mine safety experts published reports that identify significant gaps and deficiencies in miners’ emergency response training and recommend many improvements to the content and methods of escape training, and the evaluation of miners’ escape competencies. This project will help address these deficiencies by producing training materials and guidelines to ensure that miners receive adequate training on emergency escape.

The project primarily focuses on improvements in three areas:
-- Emergency communications
-- Emergency evacuation decisionmaking
-- Methods for assessing miners’ escape competencies.

The outputs of this project include:

Ready-to-use training materials
-- Training materials for nonverbal communication while wearing an SCSR.
-- Training module, Radio 101, on how to use mine communication systems.

Training methods:
How to develop emergency evacuation decisionmaking training exercises.
-- How to evaluate and remediate miners’ self-escape competencies.

The project team will consult with mine safety experts at NIOSH OMSHR, NPPTL and MSHA on various technical matters concerning miners’ best course of action in various mine emergency situations. All training materials developed through this project will be authenticated by appropriate mine safety subject matter experts, field-tested with coal miners from at least two mines, revised as needed, and made available to mine trainers through MSHA’s National Mine Heath and Safety (H&S) Academy, and NIOSH.

An important indication of the project’s impact and effectiveness (performance measures) will be the extent to which safety trainers adopt the recommended training materials and methods, and the extent to which miners’ competencies are evaluated to ensure they are capable of taking appropriate action in response to all major types of mine emergency scenarios.

Questions to be addressed by this study include:

- How can miners be taught to communicate without removing their SCSR mouthpiece?
- What do miners need to know in order to use wireless mine emergency communication systems effectively?
- What types of guidance could help mine trainers comply with new regulations requiring quarterly emergency evacuation training?
- What methods can be used to evaluate miners’ escape competencies?


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