Mining Publication: A Compendium of NIOSH Mining Research 2002
The mining community serves the needs of our Nation in virtually every aspect of our daily lives by providing the materials we use for construction, electronics, manufacturing, energy, agriculture, medicine, and electricity. This industry has demonstrated time and time again an almost unbelievable ability to rise to any and all challenges it faces. Productivity has increased over the past 20 years to levels never before imagined, and the industry operates in one of the most difficult and challenging environments imaginable. The professionalism and pride of our mine workers are unmatched throughout the world, and our mining community is held in the highest regard around the globe. Interactions with mining professionals from other countries have always left the author with a deep feeling of respect for what our mining community accomplishes. The recent tragedy we faced with the coal mine explosion in Alabama is a reminder to all of us about the dangers of rock and mineral extraction. The miners who lost their lives in the explosion included a group that went back to the working area of the mine in an attempt to rescue others. In the mining environment, all workers tend to be first responders and are always concerned about the welfare of their brothers and sisters. While we have achieved great success in almost eliminating mine explosions, we must be forever vigilant to ensure that changing geological conditions do not compromise the safety of mining operations. We are mining at deeper levels than ever, producing rocks and minerals at far greater rates, and operating increasingly complex mining systems, all in an environment that is best described as challenging the hostile. In order to ensure the safety and health of our precious resource-the mine worker-we must all work together toward the common goal of protecting the worker.