Mining Project: Developing a Framework to Identify and Address Hazards Unique to Women in Mining

Principal Investigators
Start Date 10/1/2023

To support the occupational safety and health (OSH) needs of the influx of women joining the mining industry and to ensure their retention, the challenges currently facing women in the industry (and those that have yet to emerge) must be identified and addressed. Mining has traditionally been a male-dominated industry, causing OSH research to focus almost homogenously on the male experience, which has resulted in the underrepresentation of women. The number of women in the mining workforce is anticipated to increase as their targeted recruitment and retention has become a strategic goal for the largest mining companies, in part to the meet the changing demands of the industry and to address labor shortages.

Topic Area

Research Summary


The objective of this research is to better understand the specific needs of women mine workers and to develop a framework that mine operators and OSH professionals can use to guide the design and redesign of work systems to more equitably address the needs of diverse workers. To achieve this objective, the aims of this project are to: (1)(a) understand what changes are needed to make mining work systems more supportive for women in mining; (1)(b) identify any discrepancies (knowledge gaps) between the perceptions of women mine workers, workers more generally, and mine management on what changes are needed to make the mining work system more supportive for women in mining; and (2) develop new and re-examine old NIOSH outputs (e.g., related to personal protective equipment, or PPE) to better accommodate the needs of women in mining and to identify possible improvements to address equity.

Virtual or in-person focus groups will be conducted to fulfill aims 1(a) and 1(b). Focus group questions during aim 1(a) will focus on identifying work tasks that women miners find challenging or that pose a hazard to women, as well as potential solutions to improve the work system. Responses from women mine workers will be compared to those from general mine workers during aim 1(b) to identify knowledge gaps. The project team will work with existing NIOSH-industry partnerships, such as the Miner Health Partnership, and established relationships with mining organizations such as Women in Mining (WIM), the Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration (SME), and the Society of Women Engineers (SWE).

For aim 2, recent NIOSH Mining translational outputs (e.g., infographics, stickers) will be reviewed and potentially reworked with the original authors to better accommodate for size, fit, and abilities of a more diverse miner population.

Milestones and Accomplishments

Description Audience Year
Develop PPE infographics and updated educational resources Health and safety professionals at mining operations, mining engineers, miners, equipment manufacturers


Develop task-analysis framework Health and safety professionals at mining operations, mining engineers, miners 2027

Planned Impacts and Outcomes

This project will lead to a better understanding of the disparate risks women mine workers experience that impact their health and well-being. The findings will support development of a framework that mine operators and OSH professionals can use to inform the design and redesign of work systems to subsequently improve the health of women. Specifically, this research will strengthen OSH processes such as job task/hazard analyses and workplace inspections (e.g., pre-shift) to improve decision-making and practices related to OSH purchasing of PPE, tools, and other equipment, for example.

Ultimately, this project aims to reduce disproportionate health risks experienced by woman so that all workers may experience improved health and well-being during and after their working years. Although the project focus is women, it also will provide awareness of the needs of underrepresented workers and a model for illuminating their unique needs for researchers and employers. Employers’ perceptions of the use, benefits, challenges, and potential improvements to tools and processes will be summarized in conjunction with outcomes experienced by women mine workers. Findings will inform project management, planning, quality improvement, and industry outreach and communications.


This project will develop a framework informed by the identified OSH challenges and experiences of women mine workers. This framework will strengthen OSH processes such as job task/hazard analyses and pre-shift or workplace inspections and can facilitate decision-making around the purchasing of PPE, tools, and other equipment. This project will also update existing infographics and guidance to reflect identified OSH needs or create new infographics and guidance, as appropriate. Already planned is the re-release of an infographic highlighting proper use guidance for PPE to improve availability, accessibility, and suitable fit for all workers in the industry. It is anticipated that expanding accessibility in OSH resources (e.g., infographics, training) and improving language related to sizing, selection, and fit will increase the reach and impact from communications-related resources.

Page last reviewed: November 21, 2023
Page last updated: November 21, 2023