Mining Program Strategic Plan, 2019-2023 - Strategic Research Goals
The Mining Program Strategic Plan focuses on two hierarchies of goals: strategic and intermediate goals. We keep our strategic goals purposely broad in scope, maintain them as generally long-standing, and achieve them through the outcomes of the Mining Program research portfolio. Intermediate goals are more specific goals that focus on the research or knowledge gaps that must be addressed in order to meet the strategic goals. Intermediate goals cascade from the strategic goals and each strategic goal has multiple intermediate goals that will change over time as specific intermediate goals are met.
The NIOSH Mining Program has established three overarching strategic goals for this plan:
Strategic Goal 1: Reduce mine workers' risk of occupational illnesses.
Strategic Goal 2: Reduce mine workers' risk of traumatic injuries and fatalities.
Strategic Goal 3: Reduce the risk of mine disasters and improve post-disaster survivability of mine workers.
On a yearly basis, this Plan will be reviewed and updated to ensure its relevance to the current issues facing the nation’s mining workforce.
The NIOSH Mining Program recognizes that we cannot make improvements to occupational safety and health without the assistance of our stakeholders. Therefore, we also establish intermediate goals that specify desired actions on the part of external stakeholders—namely, to use NIOSH research findings and products that will directly contribute to health and safety. It often takes years and the combined effort of multiple research projects to achieve intermediate goals. Based on the standard research project cycle, an average time frame for achieving an intermediate goal is five years.
The intermediate goals defined in this Plan represent relevant problems that the NIOSH Mining Program is committed to solving, and they were selected because they are on the critical path to meeting our strategic goals. Furthermore, they are achievable given our staff, facilities, and funds.
Integrally tied to achieving intermediate goals are activity goals. These are activities that move the research through the NIOSH research to practice (r2p) continuum. The NIOSH Mining Program organizes its research into four categories: (1) basic/etiologic, (2) intervention, (3) translation, and (4) surveillance.
Activity goals describe which of the four categories will be used to move goals along the r2p continuum, and are presented in the context of their associated intermediate goals. Each activity goal names the research category, articulates how the problem or gap will be addressed, and identifies the targeted health or safety outcome. These four categories are defined below, as described by the NIOSH Strategic Plan research goals webpage.
- Basic/Etiologic Research: Builds a foundation of scientific knowledge on which to base future interventions. Most laboratory research falls into this category, as well as exposure assessment.
- Intervention Research: Engages in the development, testing, or evaluation of a solution to an occupational safety and health problem or the improvement of an existing intervention. Intervention is a broad term that includes engineering controls, personal protective equipment, training, and fact sheets, and other written materials intended to inform and change behavior, among other occupational safety and health solutions.
- Translation Research: Discovers strategies to translate research findings and theoretical knowledge to practices or technologies in the workplace. This type of research seeks to understand why available, effective, evidence-based interventions are not being adopted.
- Surveillance Research: Develops new surveillance methods, tools, and analytical techniques.
Activity goals describe which of the four categories will be used to move goals along the r2p continuum and are presented in the context of their associated intermediate goals. Each activity goal names the research category, articulates how the problem or gap will be addressed, and identifies the targeted health or safety outcome.
In many cases, there are additional research problems that must be addressed outside of the NIOSH Mining Program intramural project portfolio in order to fully meet the strategic goal. Often these problems are addressed through our extramural program and, while our Strategic Plan does not specifically incorporate research being conducted outside of the NIOSH Mining Program, it does provide a strategic framework for extramural partnership.
The extramural research program that was established with the passage of the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act (MINER Act) of 2006 provides extramural funding through a contracts and grants program administered by OMSHR. According to the MINER Act, OMSHR has the authority to:
(A) award competitive grants to institutions and private entities to encourage the development and manufacture of mine safety equipment; and
(B) award contracts to educational institutions or private laboratories for the performance of product testing or related work with respect to new mine technology and equipment.
While a small extramural contracts program existed prior to the MINER Act, that program became an integral part of the NIOSH Mining Program after the passage of the MINER Act. The extramural program stands separate from the intramural program but aligns with our strategic goals, with a strong focus toward the MINER Act intent. Similarly, the NIOSH Strategic Plan reflects the intent of the MINER Act by way of service goals, which contribute to the NIOSH mission by providing a service to individuals and organizations outside of NIOSH, support internally to NIOSH staff, or a combination of the two.
The MINER Act Contracts and Grants Program consists of two parts: extramural contracts administered by the Mining Program and grants awarded by the NIOSH Office of Extramural Programs (OEP). Contracts are developed primarily through Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) solicitations aimed at fostering innovative solutions to key health and safety issues; support is also provided to the intramural program through detailed Request for Proposal (RFP) solicitations to supplement intramural research when resources (staff, facilities, expertise) are not available. Interagency Agreements (IAAs) are also used to take advantage of expertise and synergies with ongoing projects at other federal agencies and federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs).