2013 NIOSH Awards

The Mine Safety and Health Technology Innovations Award created and conferred by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recognizes mines and companies who have made an extraordinary effort, above and beyond the mandatory requirements, to apply technologies in ways that will improve mine worker safety or health. The goal of this award is to promote the identification, adoption, and dissemination of safety and health technologies throughout the mining industry.

The award winners in 2013 are:

Metal/Nonmetal Award – Hecla Mining Company, Greens Creek Mine
A Collision Avoidance System to Improve Mine Access and Haul Road Safety

The risks of travel on mine access and haul roads significantly increase during darkness, fog, and other adverse weather conditions. Collision avoidance under limited visibility conditions is a challenging problem, and the aviation industry has reduced accidents through the application of traffic-awareness technologies. Hecla's Greens Creeks Mine, working with SAFEMine Technology USA, adapted a GPS and radio technology approach first used to improve ground-based collision avoidance at airports. The resulting peer-to-peer communication system is simple and robust, providing vehicle operators with improved situational awareness and voice-annunciated warnings when potential collisions develop.

Coal Award – Alpha Natural Resources and Matrix Design Group
Next-Generation Sensors for Atmospheric Monitoring Systems

The potential for atmospheric monitoring systems to improve mine safety is limited by commercially available sensors that can be deployed throughout underground coal mines. Alpha Natural Resources partnered with Matrix Design Group to design, develop, and commercialize improved air velocity, low-power methane, and flexible-use carbon monoxide sensors, with wireless and wired data transfer options. This sensor bundle also has the necessary features to allow post-accident functionality in addition to its daily use to improve mine safety by detecting potentially harmful developments in the mine's ventilation network.