Oral History Analysis of Mine Emergency Response Offered by NIOSH as Safety Training Resource

August 16, 2004
NIOSH Update:

Contact: Fred Blosser (202) 401-3749

A new publication from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) offers a unique resource to help educate and train miners and mine emergency response personnel in preparing for mine emergencies and safely undertaking response operations.

NIOSH Information Circular IC 9471pdf icon, An Oral History Analysis of Mine Emergency Response,” compiles accounts by 30 veteran mine emergency response experts. In their own words, the experts discuss the circumstances of specific explosions, fires, rock falls, and other mine emergencies from their personal experience, the procedures they and their colleagues used in responding to the emergencies, and lessons learned from those experiences.

“As older miners retire, younger miners have less opportunity to learn from experienced mentors, and to gain valuable information that literally could save their lives or the lives of others in the event of a catastrophe,” noted NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. “The new oral history helps to fill that gap with lessons conveyed by veteran experts in their own words. This approach adds a personal dimension that will make the lessons more vivid and memorable for younger miners.”

The circular organizes the accounts according to key themes. Each theme is addressed in an individual chapter, and the narratives are prefaced and supplemented by information from other authoritative sources. The supplementary information explains the significance of each theme and provides an overview on lessons learned from some of the largest mine disasters since the mid-1940s.

The experts interviewed for the oral history were experts who had retired or were about to retire after many years of experience. They included representatives from mining companies, the United Mine Workers of America, and state and federal agencies. Some had as many as 47 years of practical experience in emergency response.

Copies of the booklet, DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2004-145, are available as downloads from the NIOSH web page, www.cdc.gov/niosh/mining/pubs/pdfs/2004-145.pdfpdf icon or in printed copies from Charles Vaught, Ph.D., NIOSH Pittsburgh Research Laboratory, at Cvaught@cdc.gov. Additional NIOSH resources on emergency response and rescue in mines are available on the NIOSH web page at www.cdc.gov/niosh/mining/.

Page last reviewed: July 22, 2015