Mining Project: Characterization of Haul Truck Health and Safety Issues

Principal Investigator
Start Date 1/25/2019

To inform future health and safety research related to powered haulage by identifying and characterizing health and safety issues related to haul trucks through a systematic evaluation of accidents, operators’ needs, and technology maturity.

Research Summary

Consistently, powered haulage accounts for the most fatalities in all mining. Fifty percent of the fatalities in 2017 (14 of 28) and 57% (4 of 7) of fatalities in the first few months of 2018 involved powered haulage [MSHA 2018b]. Mobile equipment accounts for most of these accidents. Mobile equipment was involved in nearly 40% (10) of the 28 overall fatalities and more than 30% of the overall injuries in 2017 [MSHA 2018c]. Of powered haulage and mobile equipment, haul trucks are the most prevalent piece of equipment. In fact, haul trucks account for over 45% of all equipment in the mining industry [PR Newswire 2015]. An estimated 44,500 haul trucks are in use worldwide [Parker Bay Company 2014]. In 2017, haul trucks were involved in six of the 28 fatalities [MSHA 2018a].

Image showing three different views representing how a mineworker near a haul truck may be in driver’s blind spot, posing a safety concern.

This NIOSH simulation depicts the potential safety concern posed by a haul truck’s blind spots. Hazards that may be clear from other perspectives can remain unseen by the operator. (Click for larger image)

For the above reasons, haul trucks were selected as the subject for this research project and continue to be one of the leading health and safety concerns in mining. Haul trucks also share many similarities in design (e.g., operator cab, large size) and safety technology (e.g., collision avoidance systems, machine monitoring systems) with other pieces of mobile equipment such as bulldozers, front-end loaders, and service trucks. These similarities may allow for the generalization of the results to mobile equipment and powered haulage overall.

Research has shown that many of the accidents involving haul trucks appear to be related to operation and unidentified hazards, such as those hidden by blind spots [Porter 2016; Santos et al. 2010].  However, the underlying causes, what should be done, and where researchers’ efforts should be focused remain unclear. Therefore, the goals of this project are to better understand why these issues continue to occur and to identify any research and technology gaps that currently exist. This project will use a mixed-methods approach and follow the situational awareness-oriented design framework.

Left image is a screenshot from a virtual reality mine rescue simulation. Participants, objects, and environmental conditions are shown in an underground mine passage. Top right photo shows a researcher participating in the simulation. She is wearing VR goggles and holding controllers. Bottom right photo shows two researchers wearing VR gear and participating in the same simulation.

NIOSH researchers (right) participate in a VR Mine Rescue simulation (left) from separate locations. NIOSH's VR Mine Rescue features various mine rescue team roles, interactable objects and tools, dynamic ventilation, and environmental hazards (e.g., fire, roof fall). (Click for larger image)

The six research tasks for this project are as follows:

(1) Industry Engagement: Visit and hold discussions with mine operators, manufacturers, industry associations, and other stakeholders to determine what the current state of the industry is and identify stakeholder concerns.

(2) Accident Analyses: Analyze human-machine interface failures that may have contributed to the occurrence or severity of a fatality involving a haul truck.

(3) Cognitive Task Analysis: Explore how various workers perceive haul truck hazards, skills and expertise, training, and how operators respond to challenging or nonroutine scenarios related to human-machine interface failures identified in Task 1.

(4) Technology Readiness Assessment: Assess the maturity of health and safety technologies related to human-machine interface failures identified in Task 1.

(5) Training Materials: Develop haul truck simulated accident recreations based on the narratives captured in Task 3 targeted for mineworker training.

(6) VR Training:  Design and develop a multi-player virtual reality (VR) training application. To leverage pervious work, this task will target mine rescue teams and assess usability and acceptance at mine rescue competitions in collaboration with the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA).

The results of this work will identify research, technology, and implementation gaps related to haul truck operation. The current findings are summarized in NIOSH's Haul Truck Research Roadmap Report 2020.  The work will also produce user requirements that can be used to design, develop, and improve safety interventions related to haul trucks. Finally, the project will develop training solutions that can be directly used as well as a VR Mine Rescue Training application that will be available to pilot. 


Bellanca JL, Macdonald B, Navoyski J, Hrica JK, Orr TJ Demich B, Hoebbel CL [2023]. Using near-miss events to create training videos. Denver, CO: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration Annual Conference & Expo.

Hrica JK, Bellanca JL, Benbourenane IL, Carr JL, Homer JP [2022]. A rapid review of collision avoidance and warning technologies for haul trucks. Min Metal Expl 39:1357–1389.

Hrica JK, Bellanca JL, Benbourenane IL, Orr TJ [2022]. Use of cognitive task analyses to inform future research and identify solutions for haul truck safety. Salt Lake City, UT: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration Annual Conference & Expo.

Bellanca JL, Ryan ME, Orr TJ, Burgess-Limerick RJ [2021]. Why do haul truck fatal accidents keep occurring? Min Metal Expl 38:1019–1029.

NIOSH [2020]. Haul truck research roadmap report 2020. Pittsburgh, PA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.


Mine Safety and Health Administration [2018a]. Fatality reports. Accessed 22 February 2018.

Mine Safety and Health Administration [2018b]. Quarterly stakeholder call. 30 April 2018.

Mine Safety and Health Administration [2018c]. Safety improvement technologies for mobile equipment at surface mines, and for belt conveyors at surface and underground mines, vol. 83, 2018, p. 29716.

Porter W [2016]. Haul Trucks Can Kill! Coal Zoom. October 18.

PR Newswire [2015]. Global mining truck market 2015-2019 - growth of mining truck rental business with Caterpillar, Hitachi Construction Machinery & Komatsu dominating. Cision, 7 October 2015.

Santos B, Porter W, Mayton A [2010]. An analysis of injuries to haul truck operators in the U.S. mining industry. In Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting, Los Angeles, CA. 

The Parker Bay Company [2014]. Mining trucks.  Accessed 22 February 2018.

Page last reviewed: May 4, 2023
Page last updated: May 4, 2023