NIOSH to Accept Further Input on Mining Automation and Safety Research

Published June 27, 2019

NIOSH is accepting further comments to inform the prioritization of future agency research to address the expanding use of automation and related technologies in mining. NIOSH’s comment period on this topic originally closed on May 17, but the agency has reopened it in response to a request from an interested party. NIOSH seeks to learn the extent of and timeframe for implementation of automation and associated technologies in mining; health and safety concerns related to these technologies; and what sensor technology improvements are needed to ensure the safety of people working on or near automated equipment. The agency also hopes to gather information about the application of big data analytics to automated mining equipment or systems.

According to NIOSH, companies are seeking to adopt automation to help them decrease costs and increase efficiency. Some companies also say that these new technologies—which include automated mobile equipment, robotics, teleoperation, wireless communications and sensing systems, wearable sensors and computers, virtual and augmented reality, and data analytics—improve safety. NIOSH specifically requests input concerning gaps in knowledge regarding the health and safety implications of humans working with automated equipment.

Comments received previously are posted on the docket page on Regulations.gov. The new public comment period will close on Aug. 23, 2019. Further details are available in the Federal Register notice.

Related: At AIHce EXP 2019 in Minneapolis, NIOSH’s Chuck Geraci and Naomi Swanson discussed what an increasing amount of human-robot interaction means for workers and the field of industrial hygiene. Automation was one focus of their presentation.