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Psychological and behavioral aspects of occupational safety and health in the US coal mining industry.

Kowalski-Trakofler KM; Vaught C; McWilliams LJ; Reissman DB
Occupational Health and Safety. Burke RJ, Clarke S, Cooper CL, eds., Burlington, VT: Gower, 2011 Aug; :197-222
In the US mining industry, psychological aspects of safety and health are defined very broadly as psychosocial issues. Psychology is embraced literally as the study of human behavior, and the focus is on studying human behavior as it relates to injuries and fatalities with the goal of mitigating further instances. This chapter explores the psychological and behavioral dimensions of occupational safety and health (also referred to as OSH) for workers mining coal underground. Mining has a history of disasters that have formed the framework for an array of OSH interventions. Within the mining industry, the severity of the hazardous environment has necessitated a focus on controlling, managing, and changing the physical environment or "engineering out" the hazard. More recently, a growing body of research indicates that specific job/task and organizational-level factors may have a powerful influence on safe work practices and accident deterrence-thus reducing injuries and deaths of coal miners (Dejoy, Gershon and Schaffer, 2004). Although it must be noted that many psychosocial aspects of OSH in mining are relevant to all major mining sectors (that is, coal, metal, non-metal, stone, and sand and gravel) as well as many other hazardous industries (commercial fishing, transportation, agriculture) the human behavior issues addressed here have tended to arise from underground coal mining. The chapter is organized to first present the reader with an introduction to the underground coal mining environment, followed by lessons learned from mining disasters. The authors present a model to reduce worker exposure. The research in key psychosocial areas is discussed including judgment decision making and leadership in escape, training, and the introduction of refuge chambers into underground mines. Research on the aging mining population, shift work, hazard recognition, job stress, and resiliency is discussed. The authors conclude with a summary and thoughts for the future.
Mining-industry; Coal-miners; Coal-mining; Miners; Underground-miners; Underground-mining; Behavior; Behavior-patterns; Psychological-factors; Sociological-factors; Injury-prevention; Safety-climate; Safety-practices; Traumatic-injuries; Hazards; Disaster-prevention; Engineering-controls; Environmental-control; Environmental-hazards; Environmental-technology; Work-practices; Accident-prevention; Work-organization; Mortality-data; Decision-making; Management-personnel; Employee-exposure; Escape-systems; Training; Emergency-response; Emergency-shelters
Publication Date
Document Type
Book or book chapter
Burke RJ; Clarke S; Cooper CL
Fiscal Year
NIOSH Division
Source Name
Occupational Health and Safety
Page last reviewed: March 18, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division