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Feasibility of employee assistance programs in the coal mining industry.

Randolph RF; Peay JM
Proceedings of the 18th Annual Institute on Coal Mining Health, Safety and Research, Blacksburg, Virginia, August 25-27, 1987. Faulkner G, Sutherland WH, Forshey DR, Lucas JR, eds., Blacksburg, VA: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 1987 Aug; :51-60
Employee Assistant Programs (EAP's) are personnel programs that are designed to assist employees who have off-the-job problems that negatively affect on-the-job performance. Some programs focus primarily on substance abuse, while others deal with a wide range of problem areas. Today there are more than 5,000 programs operating in all types of organizations. However, until recently very few programs were operating in the mining industry. Reasons for the scarcity of these programs in the mining industry were unclear, since both labor and management in other industrial settings generally endorsed and supported Employee. Assistance Programs as effective means for dealing with substance abuse and personal problems that were negatively affecting job performance. In 1980, the Bureau funded a six-year research effort to determine the feasibility of utilizing employee assistance programs in the underground coal mining industry. This study evaluated the effectiveness of one mining EAP program, the HELP Program, which by the end of the study had been operating 10 years in the Price, Utah area. In addition, 17 mining companies participated in the study by providing 26 mines as research sites, where relevant data was collected from miners, first line supervisors, and mine superintendents. Prevalence of miners' off-the-job problems was ascertained, through interviews, as were estimates of the degree to which these problems affected on-the-job performance. In addition, prevalence data was collected from local physicians in mining communities. A comprehensive model was utilized to evaluate the effectiveness of the HELP program located in the Price, Utah area. Resources committed to the program, processes such as treatment and referral, and outcomes were evaluated. Outcome variables included absenteeism, turnover, accidents on the job, accidents off the job, grievances, lost productivity, and workers' beliefs and attitudes toward the EAP program. Results of the study indicate that both management and miners favor the concept of employee assistance programs. Prevalence data show that from 1% to 3% of the work force may have off-the-job problems that could seriously affect on-the-job performance. These data also indicate that family/marital, emotional and legal/financial problems are as prominent in the work force as is substance abuse. Evaluation of the HELP program indicates that significant numbers of miners and their families continue to utilize the program after ten years of operation. Evidence concerning the program's effectiveness was not clear cut. During the period of evaluation, the mines participating in the HELP program experienced decreased demand for coal, and the work force was therefore reduced significantly. This fact made it virtually impossible to determine the program's effectiveness in reducing accidents, turnover, and absenteeism.
Coal-miners; Coal-mining; Coal-workers; Mineral-processing; Mine-workers; Mining-industry; Miners; Monitoring-systems; Absenteeism; Accident-rates; Lost-work-days; Employees; Drug-abuse; Drugs; Alcoholic-beverages; Underground-miners; Underground-mining
Publication Date
Document Type
Conference/Symposia Proceedings
Faulkner G; Sutherland WH; Forshey DR; Lucas JR
Fiscal Year
NIOSH Division
Source Name
Proceedings of the 18th Annual Institute on Coal Mining Health, Safety and Research, Blacksburg, Virginia, August 25-27, 1987
Page last reviewed: November 19, 2021
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division