Training for Safety in Emergencies: Inoculating for Underground Coal Mine Emergencies
- Catherine Y. Kingsley Westerman (University of Tennessee) | Katherine A. Margolis (University of Pittsburgh) | Kathleen M. Kowalski-Trakofle (NIOSH’s Office of Mine Safety and Health Research)
- Document ID
- American Society of Safety Engineers
- Professional Safety
- Publication Date
- November 2011
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 42 - 46
- 2011. American Society of Safety Engineers
- 0 in the last 30 days
- 31 since 2007
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The potential for emergencies is ever-present in coal mining. This is illustrated by statistics which show that "employees in coal mining are more likely to be killed or to incur a nonfatal injury or illness, and their injuries are more likely to be severe, than workers in private industry as a whole" (Rice & Jonocha, 2008, p. 1). As a result of this constant exposure to harm, coal miners must be highly trained to deal with various emergency scenarios. For example, all underground coal miners must learn how to operate lifesaving emergency equipment, how to navigate out of the mine through smoke or obstacles, and how to administer first aid. This knowledge can help save lives in the event of an emergency.
Some existing underground coal mine training focuses on rote performance of prescribed actions. For example, coal miners are taught when and how to put on self-contained self rescuers (SCSRs), which are respirators that provide 60 minutes of breathable air. More specifically, they learn a rote procedure for donning SCSRs that is reviewed each quarter (Vaught, Brnich, Wiehagen, et al., 1993). Such preparation provides a basic survival skill and gives miners a good rule of thumb for what to do in an emergency.
Unfortunately, it is impossible to prepare for every potential situation because emergencies are unpredictable. When escaping miners encounter a situation that requires them to make a difficult decision, they may waste precious time considering or discussing what to do. In addition, they may not know how to take action when working with a group of people who have various and potentially disturbing reactions to the emergency. One way to help miners react quickly and effectively in such situations is to have them think through possible situations and plan their likely responses in advance.
This article describes using inoculation theory principles to prepare miners for emergencies. This is a unique application in that, to the authors’ knowledge, these principles have not previously been applied in emergency preparation training.
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