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Project Profile

Improving Mining Industry Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Read how ABS Group facilitated risk, preparedness and readiness assessments to improve mining industry safety throughout the U.S. 

Project Objectives

Improving Mining Industry Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Project Overview

In a 2012 gap analysis, the U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) determined that there were no efforts to develop tools for the mining industry to use to assess their risk and preparedness. Assessment models for mine management teams, mine rescue teams and responsible persons did not exist at that time. A previous Risk Assessment model for the mining industry, which used to be funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), was found to be too cumbersome to apply. MSHA sought a simpler model that would be readily available for the mining industry to address safety and emergency preparedness.

Using Risk, Preparedness and Readiness Models developed by ABS Group, our team worked with the State of Colorado Division of Reclamation Mining and Safety (DRMS) and JHK and Associates, LLC to conduct onsite facilitated assessments for 14 separate mining companies with underground and surface coal and metal/nonmetal mining operations throughout the U.S.

Client Needs
  • Assess primary risk factors that contribute to major mine emergencies
  • Assess the preparedness of emergency response systems and plans at mine sites to help improve the readiness of emergency responders and mine rescue teams

Our Solution

Inherent in the design of the models is the self-assessment approach. In an inspection environment in which an external entity conducts a review or audit, everyone hopes that the inspector will not find problems. In a self-assessment environment, in which the mine's management team conducts the review, everyone should be looking to uncover unaddressed problems to highlight and correct.

Facilitate Self-Assessment

We facilitated assessments at 14 mine sites throughout the U.S., including West Virginia, Colorado and Louisiana, using the Risk, Preparedness and Readiness Models. These mines included underground and surface coal mines as well as underground and surface metal/nonmetal mines. Members of the mine management teams at each of these sites participated in a two-day workshop during which facilitators from ABS Group, Colorado DRMS and JHK and Associates led discussions centered around the assessment criteria contained in the models. Our team produced a "scorecard" displaying the results of each assessment.

Develop Action Plans

Mine operators used the results of the ABS Group facilitated assessments to develop action plans to address areas for improvement and thereby reduce risks and help to improve the preparedness and readiness levels of their safety operations.

Comparative Assessments

An important feature of the models is that mine operators can use the results of these assessments for comparison among different mines within their company.

In one case example, our team revisited several mining sites owned by the same company. Through our comparison analysis across locations, the mine operator was able to compare the different site assessment results and determine any gaps within the company's risk preparedness and readiness levels that would need to be addressed with a comprehensive risk management strategy.

Follow-up Assessments

After completing their action plans, two mine operators asked our team to revisit their mine sites to conduct follow-up assessments. During the follow-up assessments, the mine operators were able to reassess their risks, emergency preparedness and the readiness of their response teams to determine the success of their action plans and any additional areas in need of improvement.

Value Delivered

Improving Mining Safety Value

Feedback from the mining companies that participated in the self-assessments performed during a three-year period from 2014-2017 indicates that the ABS Group Risk, Preparedness and Readiness models help improve safety practices in mining operations. The self-assessment approach enabled mine operators to:

  • Identify problems that were often overlooked
  • Bring together those who know the most about the mine
  • Rely on the judgment and experience of the management team to develop action plans
  • Provide a track record of continuous improvement
  • Discover industry best practices and common problems
  • Increase confidence of mine managers in preparedness levels
  • Reinforce safety culture and the belief that you have done "all you can do" to prevent a mine disaster
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