Mining Publication: Effectively Recognizing Hazards
Original creation date: March 2018
Authors: J Hrica, B Eiter, D Willmer
Researchers at the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH) are conducting studies to help the crushed stone, sand and gravel industry prepare its workers to perform more effective workplace examinations.
In one study conducted at NIOSH’s Virtual Immersion and Simulation Laboratory (VISLab), researchers created a search task within a virtual surface stone mine to study how workers with varying years of work experience identify hazards.
They instructed participants, including safety professionals, mineworkers and student volunteers, to search the environment for hazards as if they were performing a real workplace examination. Safety professionals outperformed the other participant groups by finding 61 percent of the hazards. While this was more than the other participant groups, there is still room to improve hazard recognition skills for all levels of experience.
To further explore hazard recognition and how mineworkers can improve their ability to find hazards at their work location, NIOSH researchers are beginning to characterize which competencies (knowledge, skills and abilities) are considered critical when performing workplace exams. Each day, mineworkers conduct these examinations at worksites with the goal of finding and mitigating hazards before they cause injury or death. Previous research indicates that several different competencies may influence a worker’s ability to successfully identify and mitigate hazards.
For example, having knowledge of potential hazards in the work environment gives workers a leg up in their ability to recognize hazards when they are present. Additionally, having accurate risk perception plays an important role in the ability to correctly interpret cues that signal a hazardous event or activity.
These findings indicate that there are several critical competencies mineworkers need to recognize hazards effectively. However, it is unclear which competencies are most critical for the “competent person” [based on the Mine Safety & Health Administration (MSHA) designation] to have to adequately perform a workplace examination.
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