Mining Publication: Underground Coal Mine Disasters 1900-2010: Events, Responses, and a Look to the Future
This paper captures almost 110 years of history of underground coal mine disasters in the United States. The deadly disasters of the first ten years of the twentieth century led to the U.S. Congress founding the U.S. Bureau of Mines (USBM) in 1910. The authors examine the changing trends in mine disasters including the frequency of fatalities, causal types, the responses to those disasters and most importantly, the growing body of research on human behavior in mine emergencies. Emphasis is on the future - integrating the research on human behavior in disasters into the mining industry. This research includes the integration of the judgment decision-making process, communication, leadership in escape, expectations training, incident command center issues including fatigue, shifts and leadership, plus issues concerning the introduction of refuge chambers into U.S. mines. The authors suggest that a key factor in meeting the goal of increasing successful mine escape and rescue while decreasing fatalities and injuries lies in the field of social-psychological research and human behavior interventions.