Mining Publication: Coal Mine Safety Achievements in the USA and the Contribution of NIOSH Research
Over the past century coal miner safety and health has seen tremendous improvements, the fatality and injury rates continue to decrease while productivity continues to increase. Many of the hazards that plagued miners in the past, such as coal bumps, methane and coal dust explosions, ground fall accidents and health issues have been significantly reduced. The contribution of NIOSH research includes products for prevention and survival of mine fires, methane control measures, design procedure for underground coal mines, methods for excavation surface controls, methods and procedures for blasting, laser usage in underground mines and prevention of electrocution from overhead power lines that have reduced accidents and injuries in underground coal mines. Health research has produced products such as the personal dust monitor, noise abating technologies and ergonomic solutions for equipment operators. Research priorities at NIOSH are set by considering surveillance statistics, stakeholder inputs and loss control principles. Future research in coal mining is directed towards respiratory diseases, noise induced hearing loss, repetitive musculoskeletal injuries, traumatic injuries, falls of ground and mine disasters. The recent spate of accidents in coal mines resulted in the Miner Act of 2006 which includes a specific role for NIOSH in future mine safety research and development. The mine safety achievements in the USA reflect the commitment of industry, labour, government and research organizations to improving the safety of the mine worker.