Mining Project: Improvements to Mine Escape Training

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Principal Investigator
Start Date 10/1/2009
End Date 9/30/2013

To ensure that suitable information exists for properly training underground coal miners on the appropriate procedures for escape from dangerous situations such as fires, explosions, and inundations.

Topic Area

Research Summary

Recently enacted mine federal mine safety regulations require mine operators to provide coal miners with better equipment and training on how to survive a mine disaster. Since the coal mine disasters of 2006, several groups of mine safety experts published reports that identify significant gaps and deficiencies in miners’ emergency response training and recommend many improvements to the content and methods of escape training, and the evaluation of miners’ escape competencies. This project helped to address these deficiencies by producing training materials and guidelines to ensure that miners receive adequate training on emergency escape.

The research aims of the project were to ensure that: (1) suitable materials exist for properly training coal miners to escape during mine emergencies, and (2) mine trainers are equipped with tools (methods) to ensure miners are competent in emergency escape techniques. 

The project team consulted with mine safety experts at NIOSH, the National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory (NPPTL), and the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) on various technical matters concerning miners’ best course of action in various mine emergency situations. Training materials developed through this project were authenticated by appropriate mine safety subject matter experts, were field-tested with coal miners from at least two mines, were revised as needed, and were made available to mine trainers through MSHA’s National Mine Heath and Safety (H&S) Academy, and NIOSH.

Questions that were addressed by this study included:

  • How can miners be taught to communicate without removing their SCSR (self-contained self-rescuer) mouthpiece?
  • What do miners need to know in order to use wireless mine emergency communication systems effectively?
  • What types of guidance could help mine trainers comply with new regulations requiring quarterly emergency evacuation training?
  • What methods can be used to evaluate miners’ escape competencies?

The long-term objective of this project was to increase underground miners' chances of surviving mine fires, explosions, and other emergency situations through improved knowledge and ability to escape.


Page last reviewed: October 22, 2016
Page last updated: October 22, 2016