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Mining Project: Surveillance & Statistics

Principal Investigator
Start Date10/1/1997

To develop and strengthen the use of surveillance data to identify priorities, trends, and emerging issues within the mining industry.

Research Summary

High rates of fatalities, injuries, and illnesses in the mining industry call for solutions guided by a surveillance program that identifies the greatest hazards and tracks impact on reducing those hazards. According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics from 2013, fatal injury rates in mining are more than four times higher than the average for all industries. Miners have a higher risk of acquiring certain occupational illnesses, such as noise-induced hearing loss and lung disease, than workers in any other major industry. To address these problems effectively, detailed information about the causes must be collected and analyzed through a systematic surveillance program.

As part of this program, this project has four research aims, as follows:

  1. Conduct analyses of existing surveillance data and related information to identify research and intervention priorities.
  2. Continue and enhance existing surveillance activities to track priority injuries, illnesses, hazards, and risk factors.
  3. Develop new activities to expand the scope of surveillance for priority conditions not covered by existing surveillance activities.
  4. Increase research to improve occupational surveillance, conduct and support research to evaluate existing surveillance systems, and support the development of new approaches for occupational surveillance.

Under this project, the NIOSH Mining Program developed a surveillance system based on its National Survey of the Mining Population. This system collects employee-level data—which does not exist in MSHA’s systems or any other datasets—to calculate injury rates for various demographic and occupational subgroups and then identify the groups for which solutions will have the greatest impact. The surveillance program also uses surveillance systems for the Bureau of Labor Statistics and National Center for Health Statistics to compare mining data to related data from other industries. Additional data sources include workers’ compensation data systems and worker claims data systems administered by other national and international organizations, including the International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions.

This project encompasses the complete surveillance program of the NIOSH Mining Program. The program performs ongoing surveillance of the work-related injuries and diseases that harm miners in all of the major mining sectors (coal, metal, nonmetal, stone, and sand and gravel). The main output of the program is guidance and data needed by the NIOSH research programs that develop effective solutions to specific health and safety hazards. Specifically, the surveillance program evaluates the research design and statistical methods in project proposals and research papers, and plans and performs the statistical analyses for numerous research projects. Finally, the program also provides guidance to various stakeholders such as mining associations, labor organizations, mine safety personnel, mine managers, and company officials.

The impact of this program will be measured by tracking the number of requests for NIOSH Mining Program publications, tracking the number of website hits, and communicating with Mining Program stakeholders to determine how they have used the information contained in the publications.