The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Mining Program, in conjunction with the Industrial Minerals Association–North America, the National Mining Association, and the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association, recognized four organizations in their respective industry sectors, some for developing new safety tools and systems, and others for instituting new health protocols to keep their workforce safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. The four award categories are: industrial minerals; coal; metal; and stone, sand and gravel.
In the stone, sand and gravel category, Lehigh Hanson Lowrys Quarry won for retrofitting a haul truck to comply with ISO 23875 and improve air quality in the cab. To reduce dust accumulation and manage CO2 levels, Lowrys Quarry installed a real-time CO2 and pressure monitor, a recirculation filtration system, and an air intake filter. With the new technology in place, the air quality in the cab met or exceeded ISO 23875 requirements. These measures resulted in a healthier work environment for haul truck operators.
Imerys Performance Minerals Americas–North American Division won the industrial minerals award for introducing contact-tracing technology to manage social distancing and track exposures to COVID-19 at their worksites. Imerys provided wearable contact-tracing badges to all personnel and used the data collected to improve social distancing measures or add exposure controls. These measures delivered additional capacity to contain the potential spread of COVID-19.
Matrix Design Group won the coal award for a second year in a row, this time for combining multiple technologies to improve proximity detection for battery scoops in underground coal mines. Matrix Design Group updated battery scoop proximity systems to allow for custom detection zones, enhanced range and stability, lighting, and audible alarms. The company developed and installed an Enhanced Status Screen to show operators the nearest miner, as well as detailed on-machine diagnostic information. It also added intuitive operator controls for new warning lights and audible alarms. These advancements have improved operation of the battery scoop and helped reinforce safe work habits for mining personnel.
In the metal category, Coeur Mining Inc., won for implementing a comprehensive pandemic response plan to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 at their worksites. Coeur Mining combined multiple technologies in this effort, including online site access screening, a dashboard to manage COVID-19 testing data, and wearable contact tracing badges for all employees. This allowed Coeur Mining to quickly identify asymptomatic and symptomatic positive cases of COVID-19, trace employee exposures, and prevent further transmission.
“This year’s awards attest to the mining industry’s ability to innovate in response to immediate, global challenges, while continuing to develop industry-specific health and safety solutions,” said NIOSH Associate Director for Mining Dr. Jessica Kogel.