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NIOSH Releases Software Tool for Hazard Recognition Training

Aggregates plant workers can now challenge themselves to identify workplace hazards with a preview release of EXAMiner software from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

This new training tool, developed by NIOSH’s Mining Program, is a PC-based software application that allows both novice and experienced miners to test their examination skills in a simulated, interactive environment with more than 30 panoramic photos from a real surface limestone mine, or with uploaded images taken by smartphones or digital cameras in their own mine in any sector.

EXAMiner is designed to be used by mineworkers and by mine safety trainers during Part 46 annual refresher training, quarterly training meetings, and pre-shift toolbox talks. The preloaded images include scenes from four locations at a stone surface mine: in the pit, at the plant, in the shop, and along the mine roadways. EXAMiner’s customizable functionality also allows miners and trainers to use their own panoramic images to personalize the training.

“EXAMiner serves as a standalone training tool to help mineworkers recognize the safety and health hazards at job sites and find ways to mitigate these hazards,” said Dr. Jessica Kogel, NIOSH associate director for mining. “Miners and trainers can make this tool work in the way that’s best for each situation.”

Mineworkers face real risks to their safety and health at their worksites every day. From October 2013 to January 2015, 37 mineworkers died at metal and nonmetal mine sites in the United States, doubling the number of fatalities that occurred in each of the previous two years.

To address this alarming trend, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) proposed an update to the regulation on workplace examinations, which would require workplace hazard examinations to be conducted before or as the mineworker begins work at a location, with any unsafe conditions identified and corrected. EXAMiner serves as a training tool to ensure mineworkers are prepared and practiced in performing these newly required workplace examinations.

For several years prior to development of the EXAMiner software, NIOSH researchers conducted a lab study with stone, sand and gravel mines to document how mineworkers visually search for hazards using panoramic photos. The results and methodology from that study were incorporated into the development of EXAMiner.

NIOSH consulted with industry subject matter experts to verify that the scenes and the featured hazards in EXAMiner are true-to-life depictions mineworkers might see in a real working environment.

EXAMiner is available for download from the NIOSH Mining Program’s website.