International health, safety conference details released

ORGANIZERS of the International Health and Safety Symposium have announced that the ongoing investigations into the Upper Big Branch explosion, along with the newest in mine safety technologies, will both be highlighted at the event kicking off this week.
International health, safety conference details released International health, safety conference details released International health, safety conference details released International health, safety conference details released International health, safety conference details released

J. Davitt McAteer.

Donna Schmidt

Some details are subject to change before the start of the event, set for April 7-8 in Charleston, West Virginia, but a highlight of the agenda is clearly the first panel discussion, Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster, moderated by Pennsylvania Bureau of Mine Safety director Joe Sbaffoni.

The roundtable’s speakers include UBB lead investigator Davitt McAteer from the governor’s independent investigation team, along with underground investigator Jim Beck. Rounding out the group are West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health, Safety and Training administrator Bill Tucker, United Mine Workers of America international representative Max Kennedy and an invited speaker from UBB owner Massey Energy.

Wednesday afternoon will include breakout sessions on the federal approval and certification process, led by the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s Dave Chirdon, as well as Lung Health of US Coal Miners in 2011: Problems and Solutions, and Mine Safety/Emergency Best Practices – International Practices and Recent Experiences, which will look at experiences in China, New Zealand, Chile, the Ukraine and South Africa.

The second and final panel discussion April 7 will focus on mine disaster response, and will be moderated by West Virginia University Department of Extension and Outreach director Jim Dean. Speakers include MSHA coal administrator Kevin Stricklin, WVOMHST mine rescue coordinator Dan Spratt and MSHA mine emergency operations chief John Urosek.

The day will end with a 4pm memorial service to remember the 29 miners who died in the Upper Big Branch explosion April 5 last year.

The second day of the symposium will switch gears to the topic of mine emergency technologies, and will bring together members of academia, state officials and federal regulatory agencies to discuss issues of mine rescue, including but not limited to tracking, shelters, SCSR improvement efforts, rock/coal dust and communications systems.

Industry and Labor Perspective on the Future, the event’s second roundtable, will again be moderated by McAteer and feature executives from operators Consol Energy, Patriot Coal and Alpha Natural Resources as well as UMWA president Cecil Roberts.

The final session of the event, Mine Safety and Health in the 21st Century – The First Decade: Domestically and Internationally, will be led by Western Coal vice-president Larry Evans. Both state and federal representatives will share their input before the event adjourns at 2.30pm.

Vendors will be on hand at the symposium with mine safety and health products and services on display.

The International Health and Safety Symposium is free, but advanced registration is required. Registrations are being accepted at the symposium’s web site.

Keep reading ILN for direct coverage on the symposium.