NIOSH Mine Safety and Health Technology Innovations Awards Winners Announced

"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, in conjunction with the National Mining Association; the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association; and the Industrial Minerals Association–North America, recognized the efforts of four organizations last week for developing new tools and systems or 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. 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 won in the metal category. The company created the Operational Intelligence Suite application that works with off-the-shelf, real-time sensors that detect a range of health hazards (such as noise, dust, and 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 then mitigate the risks.

During the IMA-NA annual meeting on Sept. 26, Imerys received the award in the industrial minerals category for its development of a moisture-tolerant rock dust to be used within coal mines. The rock dust blend developed by Imerys, called ImerCoal MT, keeps water from interfering with the dust's protective qualities.

The winner in the stone, sand and gravel category, Wisconsin Proppants Operations, successfully reduced airborne exposures to crystalline silica and respirable dust generated during frac sand production by installing two systems to control those 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.

"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."

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