Coal Age

JAN-FEB 2017

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Page 38 of 51

January-February 2017 37 health & safety continued that frequently. Approximately 25% of min- ers currently receive dust information on a weekly basis, and 25% would prefer to re- ceive it only every shift; 12% even reported never receiving dust exposure information. Increased technology adoption and im- proved communication about the CPDM's use should lead to improved understand- ing, as has been the case with other tech- nologies such as the Helmet-CAM — a re- al-time video monitoring intervention of dust exposure used in surface mining (Haas and Cecala, 2015). As expected, miners' preference for more continuous equipment location in- formation was even lower. Almost 30% of the miners surveyed currently receive and prefer to receive equipment location infor- mation on a shift-by-shift basis (Figure 2). However, it is important for miners to un- derstand that more frequent equipment lo- cation information can offer valuable clues about what is happening underground. Of the 42 fatalities in underground coal mines involving mobile haulage since 1995, 22 of these may have been avoided with equip- ment location information (MSHA, 2016). Changes in haulage routes or unexpected maintenance can cause equipment to be in unexpected locations, and increased at- tention to these changes can improve sit- uational awareness, especially in cases of operator error or limited visibility. Who Gets the Critical Information? In maintaining situational awareness, there are fewer opportunities for human error if everyone has direct access to the informa- tion they need. Though information is used differently by different positions and with different frequencies, all miners still face exposure and collision risks. Therefore, gas, dust and location information still should be available. In this survey, the most prev- alent piece of information reported to be currently available was gas levels. Sixty per- cent of the miners stated that currently ev- eryone was able to monitor gas levels, and the remaining 40% said only a few people on the crew have the ability to do so (Figure 3). However, 90% of the miners stated that everyone should be able to monitor gas levels. This difference is likely an artifact of tradition and regulation — not technology maturity — as only one miner in a group is required to carry a multigas detector (30 CFR 75.1714-7(a)) (MSHA, 2006). However, there was an increase from current to pre- ferred availability in the dust and other's location information (not depicted). Min- ers reported that they would prefer more people underground to be able to monitor both pieces of information. Interestingly, miners reported a differ- ence in preference between people with the ability and responsibility to monitor infor- mation. In both the current and ideal case, miners reported that significantly fewer people should be responsible for monitor- ing gas levels than had the ability to do so, and miners reported preferring significant- ly more people to be responsible than cur- rently are for all types of information. The mismatch between ability and responsibil- ity may suggest a lack of individual respon- sibility or feeling of worker empowerment. Research has shown that positive worker attitudes such as high personal responsibil- ity are indicative of a better safety climate and correlate with better safety outcomes (Törner and Pousette, 2009). More inves- tigation of safety climate with respect to technology is necessary to explore this link.

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