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Safety Training Makes for Safer Mining
Date:5/14/2010

"MSHA's Part 46 training ensures that miners are properly trained to recognize, avoid and report hazards to create a safe workplace," said Amy Louviere, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration. "Miners are trained in the health and safety aspects of assigned tasks, including the safe work procedures of those tasks. Trained miners can work safely, which ultimately reduces injuries and fatalities."

These authors set out to see exactly what effect the training had had.

Data from both before and after implementation of the regulation found that overall injury rate at almost 8,000 mines did go down.

For crushed stone operations, the rate declined by 52.6 percent, at sand and gravel operations by 46.2 percent and at other surface mineral mines, by 38 percent.

But the decline was reflected only in permanently disabling injuries, such as losing an eye or a limb, not less severe injuries, such as those resulting only in lost work time or restricted duty.

The researchers, from George Washington University in Washington, D.C., could not say why there were declines only in this one type of injury.

But the findings do point up the importance of education in ensuring safety in any field.

"These authors found that when they intervened with education, they had fewer life-threatening debilitating injuries," said Dr. David Birnbach, a professor of anesthesiology and public health at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. "It's very similar in that if you make a mistake as a physician you're going to hurt somebody. If you make a mistake in mining you're going to hurt yourself and other people working around you. We find that by training young physicians, we can reduce the number of errors they make in several ways."

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