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SME health and safety awards

World Coal,

The Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration (SME) health and safety committee will introduce a new annual awards programme during the SME Annual Meeting held in Salt Lake City in February. The awards will include three categories:

  • Operational Excellence
  • Mining Individual Excellence
  • Research and Educational Excellence

The first recipient of the Research and Educational Excellence Award is the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s (NIOSH) Office of Mine Safety and Health Research (OMSHR), Hearing Loss Prevention Branch (HLPB). The award recognises a research institution showing exceptional innovation and dedication toward advancement in technology or education for the protection and wellbeing of miners.

Jim Thomson, chief, HLPB of NIOSH/OMSHR, commented: “We are very grateful to receive the 2013 SME Health & Safety Research and Educational Excellence Award. The recognition of the work HLPB has done to prevent miner hearing loss is very gratifying.”

HLPB programme
NIOSH is the US federal agency that conducts research and makes recommendations to prevent worker injury and illness. The HLPB was formed to develop a research programme in support of the noise requirements of health standards for occupational noise exposure. The branch seeks to understand the noise exposure of miners in the workplace and develop noise controls to reduce exposure.

A major focus of HLPB has been on commercialisation of the controls to ensure that they are available for use by miners, mining companies and mining equipment manufacturers. The team has been successful in promoting commercial products that significantly reduce or prevent noise overexposures for miners.

Safety products
The products now available thanks to HLPB research and promotion include:

  • Bit isolator to provide 4-6 dB of noise reduction for the operators of roof bolting machines.
  • Dual-sprocket chain now used on more than 40% of the continuous mining machines (CMM) in the US. These chains reduce the noise exposure by 3 dB and reduce the likelihood of overexposure by 50%.
  • CMM coated flight bars that lower the sound levels by 3 dB and provide a major reduction in the overexposure of miners.

Adapted from press release by Katie Woodward

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