6 News-USThe National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Mining Program, in conjunction with the Essential Minerals Association (EMA-NA) and the National Mining Association (NMA), recently recognized three organizations in their respective industry sectors for implementing new safety practices and systems, for employing new technology, and for cleverly reconfiguring a worksite to gain health and safety advantages.

Coal: In the coal category, Innovative Wireless Technologies and Arch Resources, Inc., shared the award for the development and deployment of a next-generation wireless gas monitor using a multi-sensor platform. When deployed at Arch Resources’ Leer mine, the wireless system provided real-time situational awareness and visibility of atmospheric conditions for easy monitoring.

Metal: In the metal category, Hecla Mining won for developing the innovative Underhand Closed Bench (UCB) mining method for proactive control of fault-slip seismicity in deep, high-stress, narrow-vein mining. As used at Hecla’s Lucky Friday mine, the method significantly improved safety, reducing the all-injury frequency rate by more than 50%.

Industrial minerals: Imerys won the industrial minerals award for redesigning a packing station and installing multiple lift-assist devices to address the issue of repetitive shoulder, arm, and wrist twisting, as well as shoulder and back lifting of bottles and boxes among workers. The implemented changes eliminated musculoskeletal disorder injuries due to these conditions at the station. The improvements made a genuine difference in the working experience of employees working the packing station. As another benefit of these changes, the packing process became much more efficient.

“Whenever private companies address health and safety issues with innovative approaches, everyone wins,” said Steve Sawyer, Ph.D., the director of the NIOSH Mining Program’s Pittsburgh Mining Research Division. “In mining, each operation has its own unique challenges, and solutions to these challenges need to be tailored to each mine.”

The NIOSH Mining Program invites nominations throughout the year for its awards series, which offers awards in four different mining industry sectors: industrial minerals; stone, sand and gravel; coal; and metal. For more information, visit www.cdc.gov/niosh/mining/content/innovationsawards.html.