Characteristics of the top five most frequent injuries in United States mining operations, 2003-2007 - Introduction
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Characteristics of the top five most frequent injuries in United States mining operations, 2003-2007 - Introduction

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  • Description:
    Research in the field of mining safety and health in the United States plays an important part in protecting the lives of miners. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Mining Program conducts surveillance, studies and developmental work aimed at improving the safety and health of miners. With recent reviews of the Mining Program by the National Academy of Sciences and the Mining Program response (NIOSH, 2008), the importance of setting goals, conducting high quality engineering and scientific research and evaluating the outputs, outcomes, relevance and impacts of these projects has been reemphasized. Surveillance of reported injuries is a first step in deciding on research directions and in designing specific projects. Groups of injuries often share features and attributes that suggest common causes and may respond to similar preventive efforts. Identifying groups of injuries also serves to prioritize intervention efforts. The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) Accident and Injury database (MSHA, 2008) provides individual case reports of mining injuries, illnesses and certain no-injury accidents (events such as roof falls that stop mine production or miners’ activities for more than one hour). This database is an indispensable resource for researchers and stakeholders needing information on the statistics of these events. From an epidemiological perspective, research projects target groups of miners at risk due to specific patterns of work, equipment, mine settings and the management of safety and health in their mines. Incidence rates are provided by the MSHA data for selected variables, such as surface/underground location, standard industrial classification and state. While incidence rates are the preferred measure for all variables, denominators are not typically available; for example, to more clearly under-stand the data about injury by occupational type, it would be necessary to conduct demographic surveys. A current survey of the demographics of the mining industry should be complete by 2010, which will allow incidence rates to be developed for a number of variables such as age, occupation and experience. This survey will provide the first update of its kind since the first survey was conducted in 1985.
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