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Winners Announced in the 2018 NIOSH Mine Safety and Health Technology Innovations Awards

September 27, 2018
NIOSH Update:

Press Contact: Stephanie Stevens (202)245-0641

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Mining Program, in conjunction with the National Mining Association (NMA), the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association (NSSGA), and the Industrial Minerals Association–North America (IMA-NA), recognized the efforts of four organizations in their respective industry sectors for developing new tools and systems, or for using existing technology in new ways. Four companies were awarded 2018 NIOSH Mine Safety and Health Technology Innovations Awards during several ceremonies Sept. 25–27. Awards are given in four categories: coal, metal, industrial minerals, and stone, sand and gravel.

In the coal category, Consol Energy won for its use of proximity detection systems on longwall shields, preventing shield movement when it poses a danger. Ordinarily, shield movement is automated and therefore could result in crushing or pinning injuries to workers in close proximity. Consol partnered with Komatsu Mining to develop and test a system that combines low-power transceivers and worker-worn battery-powered tags to protect nearby workers. Consol received the award during the NMA’s Safety Award Ceremony on Sept. 27.

At the same ceremony, Anglo American was announced as the winner in the metal category. The company created the Operational Intelligence Suite (OiS) application that works with off-the-shelf, real-time sensors that detect a range of health hazards (e.g., noise, dust, gases) as well as controls (e.g., airflow, pressures). Using this dynamic analytics app, Anglo American can more quickly detect when workers may be at risk of exposures to potential hazards and make strategic changes to mitigate those risks.

During the IMA-NA annual meeting on Sept. 26, Imerys was presented with the award in the industrial minerals category for its development of a moisture-tolerant rock dust to be used within coal mines. Rock dust is an essential resource in coal mining, as it is mixed with the coal dust created during regular operations to guard against the propagation of explosions. However, rock dusts vary in their ability to disperse when wet, creating a potentially hazardous situation. The rock dust blend developed by Imerys, called ImerCoal MT, keeps water from interfering with the dust’s protective qualities.

In the stone, sand and gravel category, Wisconsin Proppants Operations (WP OPS) successfully reduced airborne exposures to crystalline silica and respirable dust generated during frac sand production by installing two systems to control these dusts at the Wisconsin Proppants Hixton Mine. The company’s use of a dense phase conveying system and a fogging system around rotex screens achieved dust reductions that offered measurable protections to workers. For this innovation, WP OPS was recognized during NSSGA’s legislative and policy forum and fall board meeting on Sept. 25.

“It’s clear that companies are taking the initiative to address the health and safety challenges in each sector,” said NIOSH Mining’s Dr. Jessica Kogel. “It’s heartening to see the industry develop its own meaningful solutions.”

The NIOSH Mining Program invites nominations throughout the year for its awards series, which offers awards in four different mining industry sectors. For more information, visit the awards webpage.

NIOSH is the federal institute that conducts research and makes recommendations for preventing work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths. For more information about NIOSH, visit