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Mining Project: Enhanced Utilization of Personal Dust Monitor Feedback

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Project DetailValue
Principal Investigator
  • Kelly McNelis, NIOSH OMSHR, (412) 386-6886
Start Date10/1/2011
End Date9/30/2012
Objective

The objectives of the project are (1) to test an intervention designed to help miners use Personal Dust Monitor (PDM) feedback more effectively to reduce their exposure to respirable coal mine dust and (2) to document specific examples of ways that miners can use PDM feedback to determine and implement corrective actions that can decrease their exposure to respirable coal dust while working underground.

Program Area
Keywordsbehavioral interventions, black lung disease, coal mine dust

Research Summary

Coal workers’ pneumoconiosis (CWP), or “black lung disease,” is the leading cause of death due to occupational illness among US coal miners. Fortunately, a continuous personal dust monitor (CPDM) is commercially available that can provide miners with near real-time feedback on their exposure to respirable coal mine dust, a contributor to CWP. The goal of this project is to enhance how CPDM information is used among miners and mine crews to reduce miners' exposure to respirable coal mine dust, and consequently, the incidence of CWP.

Project Objectives:

  • Design and implement an intervention to help miners use CPDM feedback more effectively to reduce their exposure to respirable coal mine dust; and
  • Help workers and site-level management better use the CPDM as a way to increase workers’ awareness of their surroundings by identifying and controlling dust sources through improving work practices and/or procedures.

Project Research Aims:

1. Design a multilevel intervention in which miners discuss their exposures to respirable coal mine dust (as measured by a CPDM) and ways to alter their behaviors to decrease future exposure to respirable coal mine dust.

2. Implement and test the intervention to see if the process decreases miners’ exposure to respirable coal mine dust through corrective actions as revealed by the workers. Questions to be addressed included:

  • Do miners use feedback from their PDMs to identify reasons for variations in respirable coal mine dust exposure, the sources of the exposures, and how to avoid future exposures?
  • What types of corrective actions can and do miners take to decrease their exposure to respirable coal mine dust?
  • What, if any, engineering and health and safety management practices are used to decrease miners’ exposure levels to respirable coal mine dust?

When the project timeline ended, an Institutional Review Board (IRB) protocol was successfully completed granting permission to conduct the aforementioned research. However, research could not begin until the new dust rule, "Lowering Miners' Exposure to Respirable Coal Mine Dust, Including Continuous Personal Dust Monitors," passed on May 1, 2014 (79 FR 24813). Under this new rule, the dust level may not exceed 1.5 mg/m3. Additionally, the rule requires mine operators to use continuous personal dust monitors (CPDMs) by February 1, 2016, for designated occupations (DO) to better monitor and comply with regulatory exposures.

Because this date occurred well after the project was ending, this effort was rolled into a new project, "An Analysis of Health and Safety Management Practices through Multilevel Interventions," to further test and evaluate the intervention framework. Within this project, a task is written to involve miners in interpreting feedback from their CPDMs with the hope of decreasing their exposure to respirable coal mine dust over a six-week intervention period. This CPDM task focuses on the following outcomes:

  • Help workers and site-level management better use the CPDM as a way to increase workers’ awareness of their surroundings by identifying and controlling dust sources through improving work practices and/or procedures.
  • Apply the CPDM as a tool to help bridge actionable and efficient communication efforts between workers and site-level management about health issues.
  • Identify organizational factors that contribute to workers’ health and safety proactivity and compliance.

 

 

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