The U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) announced in a recent press release that the agency has awarded $500,000 in grant funds to six organizations that provide education and training within the mining industry. The Brookwood-Sago grants program was established through a provision in the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act of 2006. The focus of fiscal year 2010’s grants will be on training and training materials for mine emergency prevention and preparedness for all underground mines.

“Training is one of the most important components for preparing miners, rescue teams and other personnel to respond to mine emergencies," said Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "These grants provide a valuable opportunity to develop new training tools and techniques that will help ensure miners return home safely after every shift.”

Bevill State Community College of Jasper, Ala., will receive $77,000 to develop video training modules for mine emergencies and safety scenarios that can be shown to critical response staff as well as the entire mining workforce. Additionally, the project will produce a training manual for trainees to utilize in their mine operations. Bluefield State College of Bluefield, W.Va., through its Center for Applied Research and Technology Inc., will receive $61,000 to develop two Web-enabled courses to improve conveyer belt safety training. The Colorado Department of Natural Resources will receive $57,000 to help improve the level and effectiveness of mine emergency training by networking and sharing mine emergency and MSHA-sponsored mine emergency response development training ideas and innovations with reputable mine rescue and mine emergency training organizations throughout the country.

Colorado School of Mines of Golden, Colo., will receive $80,000 for mine rescue training, including simulated and actual underground rescue exercises, with a focus on effective communications and decision-making.

Pennsylvania State University of State College, Pa., will receive $132,000 to develop, design, implement and evaluate a demonstration emergency prevention training program for supervisors. Training methods will incorporate traditional classroom methods, state-of-the-art video technology, written training materials and Internet-based learning.

United Mine Workers Career Centers Inc. will receive $93,000 to develop an interactive computer program to train and prepare miners on escape procedures in underground coal mines. The training program will require teams to apply critical thinking in their virtual escape from a mine emergency, with teams advancing to the next level of the program based on their responses to each problem. Training grants are awarded for a 12-month performance period, and applicants must be states or nonprofit entities. The grants were named in remembrance of 13 men who died in two explosions at the Jim Walter Resources Inc. No. 5 Mine in Brookwood, Ala., in 2001, and 12 men who died in an explosion at the Sago Mine in Tallsmanville, W.Va., in 2006.