New look at underground coal mine safety

Spokes, E. M. - Technical Papers
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 1
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1987
A.B. Rushton The work and resulting publications of the Committee on Underground Coal Mine Safety and The President's Commission on Coal were appropriate at the time of publication. The statistics cited in the publications appeared to be valid, and the actions proposed by the committee had merit. Although the actions proposed to achieve further improvements in safety may have been worthy of repeating, to associate statistics (Table 1) that are seven to eight years old with company names is bad. Statistics are readily available from the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) and are usually within three months of being up to date. A review of the most recent Coal Controlling Co. Report will reveal significant changes in the rankings. The more recent statistics should have been cited, or at least compared with those used in the article. Westmoreland Coal Co. is listed as having a 21.1 disabling injury rate for the period (1/78-12/80). The disabling injury rate for the Company for the year ending 1985 was 7.4 for the underground mines and 6.25 for the total facilities. Through March 1986, the dis- abling rate for the underground mines was 2.86. The management and employees of Westmoreland Coal Co. are committed to safety. The improvements achieved over the past five years attest to that commitment. We are justifiably proud of the achievement and dislike being misrepresented as in the April 1986 article Reply by E.M. Spokes I regret that the lapse of time since the original work gives a picture of safety practice that is no longer true today. That Westmoreland has reduced its disabling injury rate by 65% to 7.4 in 1985 is most commendable, and I congratulate you for this accomplishment. It is typical of the progress sought by the National Academy of Science and National Research Council when they funded the original study and published "Toward Safer Underground Coal Mines" in 1982. If a significant number of companies do as well as Westmoreland, the report will have served its purpose. Since the paper was primarily a condensation of the original report, it would not have been appropriate to seek access to later statistics. The purpose in seeking its publication at the time of presentation was to reach those who might have missed the original report. The fact that publication was delayed has not voided that purpose and may have reminded some who were aware of the original that its recommendations still apply to improvement of underground coal mine safety
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