NIOSH awards recognize safety innovation

By |  December 10, 2020

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The National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH) Mining Program revealed the recipients of its Mine Safety & Health Technology Innovations Awards.

In the stone, sand and gravel category, Suwannee American Cement won for keeping its workforce safe and operational during the pandemic by using multiple innovations.

Hygiene innovations at Suwannee American Cement include a touchless time clock, touchless temperature stations and conveniently located stations for handwashing and personal protective equipment (PPE). Employee contact is reduced at Suwannee American Cement through smaller work groups and directional workflows in common areas, NIOSH says.

Also, innovative procedures were added for PPE use requirements, special disinfecting technologies and response protocols to COVID-positive situations. The innovations and other steps are communicated through text messaging, an e-newsletter, virtual meetings and large video displays, NIOSH says.

Additionally, Suwannee American Cement moved mandatory training online.

Industrial minerals winner

Genesis Alkali, meanwhile, won NIOSH’s industrial minerals award for implementing a number of innovative approaches to keep its workforce safe and operational during the pandemic.

The company enhanced its IT infrastructure to allow office staff to work from home, and web-enabled tablets allowed inspections to be shared live.

Other innovations in work scheduling and use of virtual meetings prevent crowding in the mine and in offices, NIOSH says. Non-essential visitors are kept offsite entirely.

Filtering masks are both provided and mandated when workers are within six feet of others. Handwashing and social distancing are encouraged through signage and stickers, while enhanced cleaning protocols are followed throughout the facility.

Additional details

In addition to the stone, sand and gravel and industrial minerals categories, awards in the program are issued in respective categories for coal and metal.

With the awards, the NIOSH Mining Program works in conjunction with the Industrial Minerals Association–North America (IMA-NA), the National Mining Association (NMA) and the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA).

“The entire mining industry is fortunate to have many innovators that step up and create solutions to meet both new and existing challenges,” says Jessica Kogel, NIOSH associate director for mining.

The NIOSH Mining Program invites nominations throughout the year for its awards series.

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About the Author:

Kevin Yanik is editor-in-chief of Pit & Quarry. He can be reached at 216-706-3724 or

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