SME launches awards program, names first winner

By |  January 15, 2014

The health and safety committee of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration Inc. (SME) will debut at its upcoming annual meeting an annual awards program that features three categories: Operational Excellence, Mining Individual Excellence, and Research and Educational Excellence.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s (NIOSH) Office of Mine Safety and Health Research, Hearing Loss Prevention Branch is the first recipient of the Research and Educational Excellence Award. SME says this award recognizes a research institution exemplifying exceptional innovation and dedication toward advancement in technology or education for the protection and well-being of miners.

“We are very grateful to receive the 2013 SME Health & Safety Research and Educational Excellence Award,” says Jim Thompson, chief of the Health Research, Hearing Loss Prevention Branch. “The recognition of the work HLPB has done to prevent miner hearing loss is very gratifying.”

The HLPB was formed in 1999 to develop a research program in support of the noise requirements of health standards for occupational noise exposure. Its goal is to understand miners’ noise exposure in the workplace and reduce exposure by developing noise controls.

In addition to successfully demonstrating controls and scientific presentations, the HLPB focuses on the commercialization of controls so that they are available to miners, mining companies and mining equipment manufacturers. The team has successfully fostered commercial products that significantly reduce or prevent noise overexposures for miners.

Several products are now available as a result of the HLPB’s research. They include a bit isolator to provide 4-6 dB of noise reduction for the operators of roof bolting machines, coated flight bars for continuous mining machines that lower the sound levels by 3 dB and reduce overexposure for miners, as well as a dual-sprocket chain now used on more than 40 percent of the continuous mining machines in the United States that reduces noise exposure by 3 dB and slashes the likelihood of overexposure by 50 percent.

SME’s annual meeting will be held in Salt Lake City, Utah, Feb. 23-26.

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