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100 Years of improvement in aggregate worker safety.
Stone, Sand Gravel Rev 2003 Mar; :28-34
In 1911, the former U.S. Bureau of Mines (USBM) began tracking miner injuries for the aggregate industry, which then consisted of cement-rock, granite, limestone, lime, marble, sandstone, slate, tap rock quarries and related mills and processing plants (USBM technical papers, bulletins and informational circulars). It wasn't until 1958 that the bureau, and later the Mine Enforcement and Safety Administration (MESA) in 1971, and the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) in 1975, began reporting injuries in the sand and gravel industry (USBM Mineral Industry Survey Series, MESA and MSHA Information Reports). The three major subdivisions within the aggregates industry include stone processing plants, sand and gravel operations and surface and underground stone quarries. The number of miners in each of these three groups and in the years between 1911 and 2001 is shown in Figure 1. Over this 90 year reporting period, the total number of aggregate miners has ranges from a high of 144,300 in 1959 to a low of 56,900 in 1932 during the Great Depression (these numbers exclude office workers and contractors). Since 1975, the miner population has remained fairly constant averaging 107,000. During the last 20 years, the numbers of miners in each category has ranged from 30,000 and 38,000. The aggregates industry faces a number of challenges in the near future, including the loss of experienced mine workers due to retirement, an influx of new, inexperienced workers and more challenging mining conditions. More effective training is needed to reduce injuries of both experienced and inexperienced workers from ever increasing diverse background. Some of the mining challenges including quarrying closer to cities and civil structures and under greater quarry depths with highwalls subjected to more rock stress and water pressure. In addition, many are forecasting more underground operations that are inherently more dangerous. These challenges can be met with better training, using interactive mediums or even virtual reality techniques. The awareness and involvement of the whole workforce needs to be fostered by management, labor and government jointly identifying risk factors, selecting mining practices, implementing mining plans and engineering and administrative controls. As the aggregates community has repeatedly demonstrated in the past, it will rise to the many challenges while improving the working environments of the nation's miners.
Miners; Mining-industry; Stone-processing; Sand-blasters; Sand-blasting; Quarries; Underground-mining; Underground-miners; Training
Disease and Injury: Traumatic Injuries
Stone, Sand & Gravel Review
Page last reviewed: May 5, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division