Federal Register Notice: Survey Of NIOSH Recommended Safety Practices For Coal Mines


Washington DC (CompNewsNetwork) - Since its establishment in 1970 by the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has been at the forefront of research and innovation on methods to help eliminate workplace injuries, illnesses and exposures. At Mine Safety and Health Research laboratories in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Spokane, Washington, NIOSH employs engineers and scientists with experience and expertise in mine safety and health issues. These laboratories and their researchers have gained an international reputation for innovative solutions to many mining safety and health problems.

Although the NIOSH Mining Program widely disseminates and publicizes research results, recommendations, techniques and products that emerge from the work of these laboratories, the agency has limited knowledge about the extent to which their innovations in mine safety and health have been implemented by individual mine operators. This is particularly true of methods and practices that are not mandated by formal regulations. The overarching goal of the proposed survey of NIOSH Recommended Safety and Health Practices for Coal Mines is to gather data from working coal mines on the adoption and implementation of NIOSH practices to mitigate safety and occupational hazards (e.g., explosions, falls of ground). Survey results will provide NIOSH with knowledge about which recommended practices, tools and methods have been most widely embraced by the industry, which have not been adopted, and why. The survey results will provide needed insight from the perspective of mine operators on the practical barriers that may prevent wider adoption of NIOSH recommendations and practices designed to safeguard mine workers.

In the Spring of 2007, NIOSH conducted a pretest of the survey questionnaire with nine underground coal mine operators. The pretest instrument contained 81 questions, including five questions which measured the respondents' impressions of the clarity, burden level and relevance of the survey. The pretest served several important functions, including gaining feedback on the flow of items and their relevance to the respondents' experience, assessing the effectiveness of the questionnaire instructions, and obtaining recommendations for improving the questions. Data captured in the pretest were used to identify areas for questionnaire improvement and recommendations for maximizing the performance of the full survey.

The proposed survey will be based upon a probability sample of approximately 300 of the 675 underground coal mines in the United States. A stratified random sample of mines will be drawn to ensure representativeness on important dimensions such as mine size and region of the country. Sampling a large proportion of the underground coal mines will ensure low rates of sampling error and increase confidence in the resulting survey estimates. Over-sampling some kinds of mines, such as those operating longwall sections, will be necessary to ensure enough cases are available to conduct meaningful analysis of these mine types.

Once the study is completed, NIOSH will provide a copy of the final report to each sampled mining operation, and use the survey data to improve the adoption of important safety and health practices throughout the coal mine industry. There is no cost to respondents other than their time. The total estimated annual burden hours are 142.

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