Mining Project: Identify and Characterize Health Hazards Associated with Surface Stone, Sand and Gravel (SSG) Mining and Processing

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Principal Investigator
Start Date 10/1/2021
End Date 3/31/2023

To reduce risk of injury or illness, mine workers must be able to identify and mitigate hazards where they work. Hazard recognition is therefore a necessary skill, and recent NIOSH research indicates a critical and continuous need for improvement remains. This pilot project constitutes a formative research effort to identify and characterize health hazards in mining.

Research Summary

Most hazard recognition research has focused primarily on safety related hazards (e.g., material on walkways; vehicle in blind spot) as these hazards often pose an immediate risk of injury or death to the mine worker. However, health hazards (e.g., dust, noise, heat) are as critical for mine workers as safety related hazards as they contribute to occupational illnesses not only in the short term, while the mine worker is employed at the mine site, but they can also contribute to illness and disability later in life during retirement and negatively affect quality and longevity of life. Exposure to health hazards continues to be poorly documented and reported in a systematic manner among mining sectors and a gap exists in identifying and characterizing a set of health hazards. The purpose of this pilot project was to identify health hazards and characterize specific aspects of those hazards (e.g., environmental indicators, whether and how the hazard can be visualized or not, short- and long-term consequences to exposure, etc.) to inform the design of future research focused on mine worker health hazard recognition.

To achieve the aims of the project, researchers conducted focused literature reviews, analyses of health hazard data sources (e.g., Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) reports, Hearing Conservation Programs (HCP), Hazard Communication (HazCom) and Hazard Communication Plan Standards, MSHA fatality and incident data), as well as a review of materials and secondary analysis of data from a previous NIOSH research study.

This pilot research was novel because of the gap in research related to health hazard exposures and hazard recognition for the mining industry. Information from project tasks, including a list of health hazards, what is necessary for workers to identify those hazards while working, and potential short- and long-term consequences of exposure to those hazards is being used to inform effective interventions and strategies to improve mine worker recognition of health hazards, decrease health exposures, and improve outcomes. The worker population most likely to benefit from this research is SSG mine workers, including those working in processing facilities.

Page last reviewed: July 11, 2023
Page last updated: July 11, 2023