Grayson, a mining professor at the University of Missouri-Rolla and its mining and nuclear engineering department chair, said the commission is both independent and temporary: “[It] is likely to close down with the release of its final recommendations in the fall.”
Those recommendations, he added, may potentially change the face of mine safety.
“I do believe the commission will make a significant impact on mine safety by focusing on interventions that can make a difference not only today, but also push the technological and research frontiers to another level for developing technologies for the future,” Grayson said.
The 10-member commission met for the first time on March 10 in Washington, DC, when Grayson expected their charter would be approved. Once the group begins its work, he anticipated subcommittees would be formed: “four or five ... to examine different technological, procedural and training options for increasing miners’ odds of survival in mine emergency situations.”
NMA president Kraig Naasz appointed him to the chair post, but Grayson said the remaining seats were filled by him while the NMA tapped the industry representatives of the group. The commission includes:
Mark Beauchamp – mine rescue trainer, Twentymile Coal
Anthony Bumbico – corporate safety director, Arch Coal
Stanley Cohn – executive vice-president, Concepts to Operations
Dr Amy Donahue – assistant professor of public policy, University of Connecticut
J Brett Harvey – president and CEO, Consol Energy
Dr Jeffrey Kohler – associate director for mining and construction, NIOSH
Dr Thomas Novak – chairman, Department of Mining and Mineral Engineering, Virginia Tech
Cecil Roberts, Jr – president, United Mine Workers of America (UMWA)
H F “Buddy” Webb – first vice-president, US Mine Rescue Association and mine rescue trainer, WIPP
“The commission was created so that industry could be proactive and forward-looking about increasing significantly the odds of miners’ survival during emergency situations in underground coal mines ... [we will] independently study what components of technology, procedures, and training would accomplish this.”
Grayson said the commission’s success is also fuelled by the support of the NMA as well as its member companies. The NMA is subsidising expenses incurred by the group, including travel and meeting fees, and is a vital partner in obtaining the necessary resources.
The members of the team are a mix of voluntary and paid constituents, Grayson said.
“Many commission members will volunteer their time. Others ... will receive a daily compensation in line with the guidelines established by the National Research Council and the National Institutes of Health for scientific studies and research proposal reviews.”