Brookwood-Sago grants awarded

THE US Mine Safety and Health Administration has doled out $US1 million in funding to eight recipients across the nation under its annual Brookwood-Sago mine safety grant program.
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Donna Schmidt

The University of Arizona in Tucson will be receiving $122,000 to design easy-to-use simulation gaming software for the training of 50 trainers and 2500 miners. It will focus on those with limited English proficiency and low literacy.

Receiving $216,000 will be the Pennsylvania State University, which is working to develop multimedia education and training materials for miners and operators that will help identify and prevent unsafe working conditions in and around mines.

The only western coalfields grant recipient was the Colorado School of Mines, which will receive $91,000. It will use its earmark to develop realistic computer simulations to train mine managers and staff for mine emergencies, train and evaluate incident commanders and support staff and also to train underground search and rescue teams and fresh air base personnel so they can make decisions based on real-time information and hazard recognition.

Wheeling Jesuit University will partner with the Academy for Mine Training and Energy Technologies at Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College to utilize its $144,000 grant. The money will be used to establish the Active Training Portal for Mine Safety, within which the two will develop, implement and evaluate a 16-hour “train-the-trainer” course that applies active learning to underground mine emergency prevention and preparedness.

One of only two recipients not from the educational sector is the United Mine Workers of America Career Centers, which will receive $176,000 for the development of a real-time simulation program for emergency response. Designed for miners of every experience level, the training will be provided to miners and mine operators as well as mine rescue team members.

Marshall University in West Virginia will progress with the development of the Virtual Mine Safety Training Academy with its $117,000 earmark. The academy program is a comprehensive, innovative mine safety training tool featuring a web-based, simulated campus environment that includes an underground room-and-pillar coal mine.

Alabama’s Bevill State Community College will be receiving $81,000 from the program to expand upon a previously successful Brookwood-Sago grant, which involved the development of mine emergency video training modules. The school will create short safety training videos that can be used in mine safety meetings and/or as a continuous video loop at the entrance of mines.

MSHA said the videos will also be distributed free of charge on the internet to underground mines across the country.

Finally, the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy will receive $50,000 to develop and produce a video illustrating the proper way to react to an emergency situation. The 30-minute project will have seven critical sequences of events during a mine emergency.

“The ability to keep up with technological advances will not only lead to increased safety but also gives us a unique opportunity to expand the types of training materials available,” assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health Joseph Main said.

“These materials will allow us to use new and innovative methods to train mine rescue responders and educate the mining community on safety and that will save lives.”

All Brookwood-Sago grants are awarded for 12-month periods and are given to states or non-profit entities, including educational institutions.

Named in remembrance of 13 men who died in two explosions at the Jim Walter Resources Inc. No. 5 mine in Alabama in 2001 and 12 men who died in an explosion at the Sago mine in West Virginia in 2006, the grant award program was established through a provision in the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act of 2006.

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