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The challenge of enforcing safety rules in remote hazardous work areas.

Peters RH
Work, Stress, and Health '99: Organization of Work in a Global Economy Conference, March 11-13, 1999, Baltimore, Maryland. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 1999 Mar; :1-13
Safety policies are an important aspect of many company safety programs, particularly if employees must work in an intrinsically hazardous environment such as a coal mine. At many large coal mines, higher-level managers seldom visit underground work sites. Consequently, the first-line supervisor is often the only person in a position to stop miners from violating safety rules. If supervisors do not take action, it is unlikely that anyone will do anything to stop unsafe behavior until an accident or close call occurs. Unfortunately, there are a variety of reasons why supervisors may wish to simply "look the other way," rather than stop someone from performing an unsafe act. This paper presents some findings on this issue obtained from interviews with 268 miners and 29 first-line supervisors from six different mines. The unsafe practice we focused on was going beneath unsupported mine roof. This behavior is one of the leading causes of fatalities among underground coal miners. The following types of information were collected: (1) opinions from production crew supervisors about why supervisors may ignore miners who go under unsupported roof, (2) miners' expectations concerning how their supervisor would react if he/she found them under unsupported roof, and (3) opinions from supervisors and miners about actions supervisors should take when they find someone under unsupported roof. The vast majority of miners and supervisors believe that supervisors, in general, should not tolerate the practice of going under unsupported roof. However, only about half of the miners we interviewed thought that their supervisor was likely to take any type of formal action if he/she saw them working under unsupported roof twice within the same week. Several potential explanations for this latter finding are set forth based on information from the interviews, as well as attribution theory research.
Mining-industry; Coal-mining; Industrial-safety-programs; Coal-miners; Occupational-safety-programs; Safety-practices; Safety-programs
Publication Date
Document Type
Conference/Symposia Proceedings
Email Address
Fiscal Year
NIOSH Division
Priority Area
Other Occupational Concerns
Source Name
Work, Stress, and Health '99: Organization of Work in a Global Economy Conference, March 13, 1999, Baltimore, Maryland
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division