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Pittsburgh, PA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2005-156, 2005 Sep; :1-4
Partnership makes a is one example. Imagine trying to escape when working in an enclosed space hundreds of feet underground. Emergencies like fires or explosions are frightening potential hazards for the approximately 44,000 underground mine workers in the United States. U.S. law requires underground miners to participate in mine emergency evacuation drills, but these drills are conducted in smoke-free environments that do not fully prepare workers for conditions they might encounter in a real escape situation. Several U.S. mining companies approached NIOSH to help them better prepare their workers for underground emergencies. Working with NIOSH researchers, the group created an innovative program to plan, conduct, and evaluate evacuation exercises using nontoxic smoke to simulate a real fire. Over 1,900 workers in nine mines traveled 700 to 1,000 feet through smoke-filled passages with visibility less than five feet. Miners used technologies identified or developed by NIOSH to assist their escape, such as chemical light sticks, audible strobe lights, reflective materials, directional lifelines, lighted vests, and hand-held laser pointers. As a result of these exercises, several of the mining companies have installed directional lifelines in their escape ways, purchased chemical light sticks, and are exploring the use of hand-held lasers. The Mine Safety and Health Administration has also required directional lifelines in escape ways of underground coal mines that are ventilated with conveyor belt entry air. As word of the training spread, so did the number of mining companies that wanted to participate and include smoke simulation training at their facilities. The long-term outcome of this training is a workforce better prepared to deal with emergency situations in a safe manner.
Mining-industry; Underground-mining; Underground-miners; Mine-workers; Mine-fires; Emergency-response; Mine-escapes; Mine-rescue; Mine-disasters; Hazards; Explosions; Disaster-prevention; Safety-research; Injuries; Training; Miners; Coal-mining
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Document Type
Numbered Publication
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Identifying No.
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2005-156
NIOSH Division
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National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division