Development and Application of a Risk-Based Online Body-of-Knowledge for the U.S. Underground Coal Mining Industry: RISKGATE-US COAL
Restrepo, Julian Alexander
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The occurrence of multiple fatality events in the U.S. underground coal mining industry, such as the Upper Big Branch mine explosion, illustrates the need for improved methods of major safety hazard identification and control. While many solutions to reducing the risk of mine disasters have been proposed, including stricter regulation and improved technology, a comprehensive risk management approach has yet to be fully integrated in the U.S. mining industry. Comprehensive risk management systems have been developed and implemented across a multitude of heavy industries, most notably the Australian minerals industry. This research examines the successful application of risk management in these industries, along with barriers towards U.S. implementation of risk management, which include the existence of competing safety models (e.g. behavior-based safety) and compliance regulation which consumes company resources, and limits incentive for beyond compliance safety measures. Steps towards the risk-based approach, including increased regulatory pressure and proactive initiation by high-ranking industry individuals, begin with the development of risk-based knowledge within the U.S. mining community. This research reviews the development of mine safety regulation in the U.S., and identifies regulatory constraints which have affected the diffusion of risk management. The development of a risk-based online platform which could complement the existing safety systems of U.S. underground coal operations, based on the Australian RISKGATE tool, is the central work of this research. This online platform has been developed by the research participants and industry professionals whose total underground coal mining experience exceeds 1,290 years. This joint effort has yielded a body-of-knowledge which may be used as a complementary safety control reference for U.S. mine operators who wish to employ risk management policies and practices at their own operations, or identify gaps within their own safety control systems.
- Masters Theses