The NIOSH Mining Program’s mission is to eliminate mining fatalities, injuries, and illnesses through relevant research and impactful solutions. We value relevance, impact, excellence, integrity, innovation, and collaboration as we join our stakeholders in fostering an industry of safe mines and healthy workers.
The Mining sector requires solutions to health and safety problems for miners in all types of mines, including metal, industrial minerals, crushed stone, coal, and sand and gravel. Accordingly, our work extends to surface and underground operations along with the associated plants, mills, shops, and offices. These sectors are generally encompassed by the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes beginning with 212. Although related, oil and gas extraction is covered by another NIOSH program.
This latest edition of the Enhanced Video Analysis of Dust Exposure (EVADE) software merges video files and logged data files to be used in concert with the Helmet-CAM, allowing users to view the files simultaneously to help identify exposure sources at mine sites.
Years of successful illumination research by NIOSH allows manufacturers to build cap lamp and mine lamp equipment that will illuminate more effectively and operate more efficiently than products currently on the market.
EXAMiner allows mine workers to search for hazards by performing a virtual workplace examination by way of over 30 preloaded images of scenes from four locations at a stone surface mine, or trainers can upload their own panoramic images into the program to be used during Part 46 annual refresher training.
We select research priorities on the basis of burden, need, and impact and present our research goals in the form of the current Mining Strategic Plan, 2019-2023. Our goals on behalf of mine workers are to reduce the risk of occupational illnesses, reduce the risk of traumatic injuries and fatalities, reduce the risk of mine disasters, and improve post-disaster survivability.
Our priority research areas include the following:
- Reducing and eliminating exposure of miners to mineral, chemical, and physical hazards. Mineral hazards include airborne particles that may cause asbestosis, lung cancer, mesothelioma, coal workers' pneumoconiosis (CWP), and silicosis. Chemical hazards include exposures in confined spaces with inadequate levels of ventilation, which can lead to lung cancer and cardiovascular health problems. Physical hazards include exposure to high levels of noise, heat, and tasks that require forceful exertions, awkward postures, and repetition rates that pose a risk of musculoskeletal disorders.
- Improved safety in relation to the wide range of tools, stationary equipment, and mobile equipment used to extract and process mined materials. The mine itself can also pose significant hazards by way of roof and rib falls in underground mines and ground failures at surface mines. Surface and underground mines and the associated processing plants pose a variety of hazards, some of which change as mining progresses. Unintended interactions between miners and these hazards can result in outcomes ranging from acute traumatic injuries to life-threatening trauma and fatal injuries. Further, slips, trips, and falls remain a significant factor in traumatic injuries, and fatigue and other fitness-for-duty issues play a substantial role in increasing risk of injury.
- Improved technologies and practices to limit the occurrence of mine disasters. Effective disaster prevention research can reduce the human toll of mine disasters by removing or limiting the conditions under which a disaster can occur. Improved strategies and technologies for self-escape and for use by mine rescue personnel provide the industry with much-needed tools to enhance miner survivability in the event of a disaster. Accordingly, the Mining Program addresses accumulations of combustible and explosible materials; detection of hazardous conditions; catastrophic failure of mine pillars, stopes, and critical structures; mine worker self-escape; and post-disaster survival and rescue of mine workers.
We also actively engage in partnerships with stakeholders to share information and solutions about some of the most pressing health and safety issues facing the mining industry.
The most recent Mining Program Performance One-pager offers a snapshot of the Program's priorities, strategies we use to address these priorities, recent accomplishments, and upcoming work.
To Learn More
See the Mining Program's main page for a list of current and past health and safety topics the Program has addressed. Our efforts to advance communication and collaboration across the mining health and safety community include the NIOSH-facilitated National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) Mining Sector Council. The Council works to identify the most salient needs of this large and diverse global sector, facilitate the most important research, understand the most effective intervention strategies, and learn how to implement those strategies to achieve sustained improvements in workplace practices.
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