Mining Project: Self-Escape from Underground Coal Mines Training Initiative

This page is archived for historical purposes and is no longer being maintained or updated.
Principal Investigator
Start Date 10/1/2014
End Date 9/30/2018
Objective

To characterize competence in specific self-escape roles of underground mining personnel, identify potential gaps in existing self-escape training, and explore best practices to provide practical guidance to mine safety and health professionals.

Topic Area

Research Summary

The objective of this project was to characterize competence in the specific self-escape roles of underground mining personnel, identify potential gaps in existing self-escape training, and explore best practices in emergency response training to provide practical guidance to mine safety and health professionals.

This project had four research aims, as follows:

  1. Identify and prioritize critical self-escape KSAs (knowledge, skills, and abilities) to characterize competence in the task of self-escape for rank and file mineworkers and those in leadership positions.
  2. Explore prioritized self-escape competencies to identify potential gaps in current self-escape training, and identify strategies to fill those gaps.
  3. Provide a standardized evidence-based framework for self-escape competency training and assessment to the mining industry.
  4. Create modifiable immersive mine environments suitable for training and behavioral research activities.
Screenshot of room and pillar underground coal mine simulation. This image depicts an active supersection.
Screenshot of room-and-pillar underground coal mine simulation. This image depicts an active supersection, highlighting the visual cues that mine workers may use to navigate around the section, including lighting, cables, curtains, and rock dust levels. This simulation is being developed to further investigate cognitive skills required for self-escape in the event of an emergency. (Click for larger image.)

In response to recommendations set forth by the National Academy of Sciences, this work was conducted through a combination of in-house efforts and contract work. Project activities were performed at NIOSH facilities, mine sites, and other training facilities.

As a part of the formative effort, research activities included formal hierarchical and cognitive task analyses to identify KSAs across self-escape roles, the exploration and characterization of specific self-escape training elements required by law (e.g., annual refresher and responsible person training), the identification of existing gaps in miner training and competence, and reviews of the knowledge base related to current decision science and emergency training in international mining and other high-risk industries. Finally, mine emergency subject matter experts assisted NIOSH researchers in the validation and translation of the findings to provide practical guidance for the mining industry.

Parallel to completing the tasks related to research aims 1-3, researchers were also preparing the Virtual Immersion and Simulation Laboratory (VISLab) for future behavioral research activities by developing a flexible virtual underground coal mine that can be modified based on stakeholder needs. The flexibility of the virtual environment is suitable for experimental work to study Mining Program research topics such as situational awareness, hazard recognition, and decision-making. The virtual mining environment, VR Mine, can also be used as a communication tool to visually represent self-escape concepts.

The outcomes of these activities have been combined to produce a validated framework and enhanced self-escape training and assessment content that can be used by mine safety and health professionals and/or tested in a controlled research setting. The outputs of this work are expected to contribute to increased standardization of effective self-escape training and assessment and a more prepared workforce.  They could also potentially inform legislative and policy discussions related to self-escape training requirements in the United States mining industry.

Related Resources

BG 4 Benching Trainer Software

NIOSH Mine Emergency Escape Simulation Technology Available for Developers

Underground Coal Mine Map Reading Training


Page last reviewed: 2/21/2019 Page last updated: 2/21/2019