May 28, 2020

Reorganization in NIOSH Addresses Changes in the Mining Industry

A new Federal Register notice published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes actions related to the reorganization of NIOSH. According to CDC, the reorganization is intended to address changes in the mining industry and stakeholder priorities. The changes are also meant to “align and integrate regional activities of the NIOSH mining program's core business and research functions.”

Seven organizational units are eliminated entirely, including the Health Communication, Surveillance and Research Support Branch; the Ground Control Branch; the Dust, Ventilation and Toxic Substances Branch; the Human Factors Branch; the Electrical and Mechanical Systems Safety Branch; the Fires and Explosions Branch; and the Workplace Health Branch. The notice also updates the “functional statements” for the Pittsburgh Mining Research Division and the Spokane Research Division, and creates five new branches: the Health Hazards Prevention Branch; the Mining Systems Safety Branch; the Human Systems Integration Branch; the Miner Health Branch; and the Miner Safety Branch.

The purpose of the Health Hazards Prevention Branch will be to reduce illnesses and injuries to mine workers through assessment and control of respiratory and physical hazards. The Mining Systems Safety Branch will work to reduce accidents and injuries related to changing geological conditions and mine system technologies. The branch will also focus on preventing mine explosions, mine fires, and gas and water inundations. According to CDC’s notice, the function of the Human Systems Integration Branch is to reduce fatalities and injuries through interventions and engineering controls. The Miner Safety Branch will seek to identify and eliminate safety issues related to changing mine conditions and technologies, while the Miner Health Branch will assess and track miner health and hazard exposures.

For further details, see the Federal Register notice.