coal mineThe U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration has awarded $1,250,000 in grants through its Brookwood-Sago program to seven organizations that provide education and training within the mining industry. The funding will be used to develop and implement training and related materials for mine emergency preparedness, as well as for the prevention of accidents in underground mines.

“We can never over-emphasize the importance of training, especially in the area of mine emergency response,” said Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. “These grants will enable organizations that are dedicated to mine safety to develop programs that may one day save miners’ lives.”

  • The Colorado School of Mines in Golden is receiving $147,184 to provide quality training to mine rescue teams. The training will focus on improving the technical, communications and decision-making skills of a team and individuals staffing the incident command center during mine emergencies.
  • Rend Lake College in Ina, Ill., is receiving $73,293 to provide mine emergency response and rescue skills training for the region’s mine rescue teams. The training will take place at the campus’ Coal Mining Training Center.
  • The University of Arizona in Tucson is receiving $167,191 to test and evaluate the effectiveness of computer software simulations for mine emergency preparedness at five underground mines in New Mexico, Utah and Colorado, which all have significant Hispanic worker populations. The team also will conduct training at the university’s San Xavier Underground Mining Laboratory, a student-run, fully operational underground mine.
  • Bevill State College in Sumiton, Ala., is receiving $148,799 to develop a high-quality, “day in the life” educational video that features a mine examiner working at an active mine. The video will include an unscripted, real-time narrative of pre-shift examinations of a working section, beltline, and track and haulageway, and will involve the examiner searching for hazardous conditions and violations of mandatory health and safety standards.
  • Marshall University in Huntington, W.Va., is receiving $96,306 to develop a computer program that performs ventilation network planning calculations as well as simulates a mine’s ventilation system and its response to altered ventilation parameters, external influence such as temperatures and internal influences such as mine fires. The university has proposed to incorporate the program into a virtual underground mine model to produce realistic mine emergency response exercises.
  • The Pennsylvania State University in University Park is receiving a grant of $216,358 to implement a training program featuring a webcast and modules on hiring and training mine emergency prevention instructors, identifying and recruiting trainees, conducting mine emergency prevention training, evaluating the training, following up and revising the training, distributing materials, a “train-the-trainer” workshop, and ground control hazards recognition and prevention.
  • The United Mine Workers of America Career Centers Inc., based in Washington, Pa., is receiving $224,111 for the development of a training program to educate miners on mine map reading, symbol recognition, escapeways and basic mine ventilation. After completing classroom curriculum and training exercises, trainees will apply their knowledge in a variety of hands-on training scenarios in simulated coal mines. A separate amount of $176,758, which represents a second-year renewal of the organization’s 2011 award, will be allotted to the development of real-time simulation for responding to emergencies. The training program targets miners employed in coal mines in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia, and helps introduce new mine rescue team members to the roles and responsibilities of the team, team captain, map man, gas man, tail man and briefing officer.

Training grants are awarded for a 12-month performance period, and applicants must be states or nonprofit entities. The grants program was established through a provision in the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act of 2006. 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.