Mining Feature: Jack Trackemas Wins Health and Safety Excellence Award

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

A photograph of Jack D. Trackemas standing and holding the SME Health and Safety Individual Excellence Award.

Jack D. Trackemas with the SME Health and Safety Individual Excellence Award.

Jack D. Trackemas, the chief of NIOSH Mining's ground control branch in Pittsburgh, was honored with the Health and Safety Individual Excellence Award at the MineXchange 2020 SME Annual Conference & Expo in Phoenix in February.

The award acknowledges Mr. Trackemas' decades of commitment to the industry, as well as his numerous contributions to improving the health and safety of mining for workers.

Long before Mr. Trackemas earned a bachelor's degree in mining engineering and mine maintenance degree from Penn State University and a master's degree from West Virginia University, he was well versed in the challenges of mining. As the son, grandson, and nephew of coal miners, young Jack first visited one of his father's work sites at age 4.

And through his family, he also knew the hazards of the occupation. His grandfather died of black lung disease (coal workers' pneumoconiosis) before Mr. Trackemas was born, and his own father lost a leg in a roof fall accident and then died about 20 years later from the same illness that claimed his father's life.

Between his undergraduate and graduate work, Mr. Trackemas spent years working in coal mines to gain first-hand knowledge of mining, earning various certification papers to work as a miner, machine runner, and foreman. All of that on-the-job training bolstered his academic knowledge and helped prepare him for his current role in safety and health research.

During his career, Mr. Trackemas implemented the use of bleeder fans for enhanced mine gob ventilation at multiple coal mines, tested the initial designs of a dry system diesel scrubber technology to reduce diesel emissions and worker exposure, and introduced the practice of cable bolting for supplemental support in underground mines—considered a major roof control support safety enhancement in the U.S.

He is credited with engineering and working with equipment manufacturers to widen longwall faces in the U.S. At most mines, this new standard reduced continuous miner gateroad development up to 25 percent. As operating a longwall system is statistically safer to operate than continuous miner machines, extending longwall faces produced a measurable increase in safety for miners.

He is also a lifetime member of the National Mine Rescue Association.

Page last reviewed: March 16, 2020
Page last updated: March 13, 2020