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Safety Culture Assessment in Underground Coal Mining - Executive Summary
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  • Description:
    The Sago Mine Disaster, on January 2, 2006, placed renewed focus on several different aspects of safety in the underground coal mining industry. One area which received increased attention since Sago and other underground coal mining events is the concept of Safety Culture. This report describes the results of a pilot Safety Culture Assessment implemented at a small Appalachian underground coal mine, hereafter referred to as the Mine. The purposes of this pilot assessment were to (a) evaluate the feasibility and usefulness of a methodology for assessing safety culture that had previously been developed for use within other industries, (b) to initiate an investigation into the understanding and defining of the existing safety culture of the underground coal mining industry, and (c) provide meaningful and useful recommendations for the participating mine for their consideration in their ongoing quest to enhance their existing safety culture. This pilot assessment was conducted in July 2007. The report provides information regarding the presence or absence of safety culture characteristics within the Mine. Observations regarding the characteristics of the Mine’s safety culture that should be sustained are presented. Areas in need of attention and management focus to improve the Mine’s safety culture are presented as well as recommendations for moving forward. Safety culture characteristics that are important for the existence of a positive safety culture have been identified to include: - Safety is a clearly recognized value in the organization. - Accountability for safety in the organization is clear. - Safety is integrated into all activities in the organization. - A safety leadership process exists in the organization. - Safety culture is learning driven in the organization. - A process for establishing a strong and effective Safety Conscious Work Environment (SCWE) is in place. Performance objectives are associated with each of the safety culture characteristics and particular behaviors and attitudes have been identified that can be measured to evaluate these objectives. Using a methodology originally developed with the support of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, an assessment of selected organizational behaviors and attitudes was conducted to evaluate the Mine in terms of these safety culture characteristics and their associated performance objectives. The methodology involves obtaining a variety of quantitative and qualitative information, using multiple data-gathering methods. The information collected is largely based upon the perceptions of the individuals in the organization. The evaluation is a ‘point in time’ snapshot of the Mine, but cultural beliefs and assumptions do not change quickly. The feasibility and usefulness of the methodology was successfully demonstrated during this pilot assessment. All aspects of the methodology including functional analysis, structured interviews with accompanying behavioral scales, work observations, and the paper and pencil

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