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Keynote address at the 21st Annual Institute on Coal Mining Health, Safety, and Research.

Proceedings of the 21st Annual Institute on Coal Mining Health, Safety and Research, Blacksburg, Virginia, August 28-30, 1990. Hugler E, Bacho A, Karmis M, eds., Blacksburg, VA: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 1990 Aug; :9-11
President Bush has said: "From now on in America, any definition of a complete life must include service to others." That's not rhetoric. It's a fact. We cannot save the land if we do not save the people who live on it, work on it, and depend on it. We are stewards for each other, and our mission must be to secure not only plant life and animal life, but also human life. Mining is a dangerous business. No argument. It has been since the Egyptians mined for stone slabs to build the pyramids in 2600 B.C. Fortunately, mining technology has come a long way over the last 4000 years. We've seen exponential increases in production and decreases in fatalities since the days of the pyramids. (Of course the Bureau of Mines wasn't around back then, so they claim!) In fact, since 1973, coal production in the U.S. has increased 73 percent, while fatalities decreased 53 percent. That's a real success for the mining industry. It proves that cooperation and leadership result in benefits for all Americans. That's quality. Today, our mission demands that we continue to move ahead. Much has been done, but we must do more. We must work together-employers and employees, regulators and executives, scientists and economists--to secure life and the quality of it for each and every miner in our nation and throughout the world. Yes, it is an ambitious mission, but our miners and the mining industry deserve nothing less than a complete commitment to health safety. Our challenge is to join forces and tackle the problems that still exist. The Department of the Interior is facing that challenge head-on. We are searching for the solutions to problems that continue to plague miners everywhere: 1) Noise problems: 30 percent of all miners suffer a major hearing loss. 2) Physical stress problems: back injuries and black lung disease continue to hamper the lives of mine workers. 3) Technical problems: cable handling and manual gas tests are responsible for too many injuries. These hazards must be eliminated. I urge you to join Secretary Lujan in addressing these problems. Embrace the efforts to make the mining industry safer and stronger for all Americans. Secretary Lujan has charged the Bureau of Mines with undertaking a relentless pursuit of innovative coal mining technology. New strategies are leading to an industry that is safe, efficient and productive. Remote sensing is an example of technology that works to make mining safer. This new method improves our ability to determine unstable roof rock zones underground. Another safety improvement: microseismic data collection. This innovative technology monitors the stability of rock by detecting rock noises. Now, miners will get more advanced warning of shifting rock areas. These strategies are designed to save lives. Yet, the mining industry will not be efficient unless it also works to save jobs. For too long, advanced technology has meant the displacement of laborers who were never trained for new equipment. That's not efficient for companies, and it's not fair for miners. Instead, a shift in technology means we must begin training our workers now.
Mine-workers; Miners; Mining-industry; Mineral-processing; Underground-miners; Underground-mining; Coal-miners; Coal-mining; Accident-analysis; Accident-prevention
Publication Date
Document Type
Conference/Symposia Proceedings
Hugler-E; Bacho-A; Karmis-M
Fiscal Year
Source Name
Proceedings of the 21st Annual Institute on Coal Mining Health, Safety and Research, Blacksburg, Virginia, August 28-30, 1990
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division