A little grant money goes a long way

A COLLECTION of advanced training materials, including DVDs and guidebooks, are included in short-term plans for the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety's Mine Safety and Training Program, one of the recipients of a 2007 Brookwood-Sago grant.
A little grant money goes a long way A little grant money goes a long way A little grant money goes a long way A little grant money goes a long way A little grant money goes a long way

The Colorado Mine Safety and Training Program. Courtesy Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety (DRMS).

Donna Schmidt

The group initially submitted two applications, one for mine rescue and emergency training and one for the training materials, with the second application approved and $US53,000 awarded for the project, mine safety and health program manager Bill York-Feirn told International Longwall News.

"There is a significant lack of clear, up-to-date mine rescue and mine emergency training materials geared toward not only mine rescue team members, but especially to the everyday underground coal miner," he said this week of the impetus for the agency's initiative.

"Since our program has an excellent reputation for developing and distributing new, innovative and effective training materials across the nation, we decided that we needed to help fill this void."

The tools that can be developed with the grant money, York-Feirn said, can be utilised not just by workers in the state of Colorado, but by mine rescue team members and all underground coal miners across the country.

"After the experiences of Sago, Aracoma, Darby and Crandall Canyon, it is clear that every miner needs better training on how to survive in a mine emergency," he said.

For that reason, the office's first planned venture is the making of How to Escape a Coal Mine in an Emergency, a 10 - 20 minute DVD training tool providing an overview of mine emergency recognition, escape tools, supplies and information, and other important information such as the use of refuge chambers and barricades.

"The second part [of the production] will contain heartfelt interviews with family members and miners who have experienced mine emergencies or the loss of someone dear to them in an underground coal mine," York-Feirn said, to reiterate the importance of knowing protocol.

The remainder of the fund money, the agency said, will be used for the design, creation, production, distribution and effectiveness evaluation of a series of combined DVD/short guidebooks.

Topics under consideration include: spontaneous combustion; mine gases/mine fire calculations; communication between incident command and mine rescue teams; Western underground coal mine ventilation systems; critical decision making skills in a mine emergency; and certification of mine rescue team members.

These projects, York-Feirn said, will be part of a cooperative effort between the department and other industry groups such as the Mine Safety and Health Administration and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

"I believe these products could have a profound impact on the quality of training the nation's miners on how to recognise and escape an underground coal mine in an emergency," he said.

"We would hope that the number of coal miners we lose in underground coal mines will be greatly reduced, hopefully to zero - the raising of awareness of every miner on a regular basis is critical to keeping our miners safe every shift, every day.

"We are excited to begin putting these new products together and look forward to the feedback we receive from the industry, MSHA, NIOSH [and] mine rescue experts during various stages of the design and production process."