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Illinois-Accident Prevention Program - MSHA Mine Health and Safety Grant

The state has put emphasis into ensuring the health and safety of individuals employed in the mineral mining industry because of the social impact that accidents cause and the major economic role mining plays in Illinois. As a response, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), Office of Mines and Minerals (OMM) designed and developed the Illinois-Accident Prevention Program (I-APP) to not only reduce the number of fatal and nonfatal accidents at all surface and underground coal and metal/non-metal mining operations in the state, but also to prevent such incidents from occurring. The I-APP not only targets mining operations, it also addresses the support industries (preparation plants, shops, loading docks and independent contractors) that access and accompany mine properties. Each year the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), Office of Mines and Minerals (OMM) attempts to address new and ongoing safety and health concerns in the Illinois mining industry. As indicated the primary goal of the I-APP is to reduce the number of accidents, injuries and fatalities occurring within the State of Illinois. To achieve this goal, it is vital that the state continue to track and compile such incidents into a database from which specific accident trends can be identified. Accident statistics are obtained from site specific accident reports prepared by I-APP Mining Specialists and then entered and analyzed by an I-APP statistician. Major fluctuations in the number of accidents and frequency rates of all the major accident categories are identified and stored in the form of statistical charts, graphs, or spread sheets. These materials are made available to the Mine Specialists who incorporate them into their safety contact program at individual minesites. When new accident trends are identified I-APP staff begin to develop mine specific safety contacts and programs are initiated accordingly. Tables and graphs for the database are being used as support material for several of this year's health and safety issues. Although routine safety classes and basic safety awareness are helpful in reducing the number of accidents, these methods are not sufficient in addressing life threatening situations. In these instances, I-APP goes a step further by incorporating several innovative approaches into its curriculum to educated the miners and supervisors in safety and health issues. The use of media options available in a normal classroom setting (TVs, VCRs, overheads, chalkboards, and PA systems) is a major component of the I-APP. However, they are used in conjunction with well-planned job site contacts. I-APP staff believe the used of individualized contacts intensifies the message of safety awareness. This is accomplished by presenting accident data to Illinois miners about their workplace or for a mine(s) in their area. This data along with national data presents compelling reasons to address a particular safety concern. It is our experience that "close to home statistics" are more effective and tend to capture the attention and emotions of the Illinois miners to a greater degree than using only national data from mines located hundreds or even thousands of miles away. During the process of recognizing, evaluating and addressing accident trends, the I-APP's Mine Specialists maintain close contact to ensure that the most successful methods of combating accident trends are used at all mine properties. I-APP staff recognizes that it is not always necessary to create new methods to address accident trends. It has been shown that a mine property faced with a trend similar to one already addressed at another site, can employ identical accident prevention methods. To ensure that the I-APP continues to evolve, the Mine Specialists conduct follow-up contacts. These contacts not only assist in measuring the successful rate of the original contacts, but also provide the Mine Specialists with suggestions for future improvements. A further benefit of these follow-ups is the ability to adapt the safety opportunities to discuss mine safety with the same personnel thereby reinforcing safety messages. I-APP Specialists are continually searching for opportunities to gain access to miners for the purpose of presenting accident prevention material. Staff attend annual refresher classes and other available classes (electrical retraining, EMT, etc.), whenever possible. Additionally, OMM personnel spend a great deal of time presenting relevant, site specific material in all the mines assigned to their accident prevention district. Because these contacts are usually 15 to 20 minutes in length and often involve 3 to 5 persons, I-APP Specialists are able to conduct several of these small "on the job" sessions in one day. The method's objective is to contact a miner several times in a twelve month period. OMM believes the key to any real accident prevention program is to supply a constant awareness through systematic presentations. While annual refreshers are necessary and useful, the information gleaned from these courses can be forgotten if it is not reemphasized on a regular basis. The I-APP Specialists have found that a "constant bombardment" of interesting accident reinforces the attitudes and habits of miners, as well as increases awareness of the hazards that should be avoided or prevented. Since the start of this innovative and aggressive undertaking in 1993, Illinois has realized dramatic improvements in its accident statistics. While the success of the Office of Mines and Minerals' I-APP is due in part to the quality of contacts and follow-ups, it should be noted that the materials presented are an important accident prevention videos. Industry officials and others who take advantage of this service are pleased with the professionalism and dedication that the video team has exhibited. Several Illinois coal operators have asked for OMM's assistance in preparing a mine specific videotape. Staff is encouraged by the response to these types of videotapes and OMM is confident that with added technology we will be able to continue producing quality training videos. Finally, it is imperative to note that the I-APP continues to make all of its accident statistics and educational materials, such as videos, readily available to industry officials, labor representatives, and regulatory agencies. This cooperative effort ensures that accident trends and abatement methods are recognized and that future accident prevention efforts are coordinated. By disseminating materials, the I-APP provides awareness regardless of location or mining situation.

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