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The University of Utah Center for Mining Safety and Health Excellence is a global resource for the mining community dedicated to the belief that zero harm to miners and their communities is both an opportunity and an expectation. The Center works collaboratively with industry, university, government, and labor stakeholders to solve problems and provide guidance regarding achieving safety and health management excellence. The Center brings academic excellence and more than 100 years of practical mining experience to mining safety and health problem solving and innovation.

The Center conducts insightful basic and applied research, creates and delivers impactful educational offerings, enhances leadership competencies and safety knowledge management, provides effective consultation by leveraging its unique knowledge and experience, and advocates for the advancement of the mining safety and health standards.

Our Philosophy and Approach

Vintage photo of minersEffective safety and health management is critical to the mining industry. It protects the industry's primary asset (miners), miners' primary asset (families), and mining communities, and it improves regulatory compliance and operational continuity (loss minimization), among other benefits.

Despite long-term statistical progress, the industry continues to experience high severity incidents that result in new regulations and weaken the industry's public license to operate. In addition, chronic levels of less severe injuries, property damage and occupational disease affect financial viability, and make recruitment and retention of the next generation of miners and permitting of new mines more difficult, i.e., sustainable mining.

Today, the consequences of global liability associated with mine incidents are obvious and growing. Companies risk intense regulatory enforcement, potential criminal sanctions and the even the potential demise of entire businesses. The moral, legal, regulatory, financial, and reputational stakes have never been higher. The question is: How do companies consistently and systematically improve safety and health performance?

Regulatory compliance is an essential responsibility of all mining companies regardless of their size or location and performance improvement has been achieved through compliance with national, provincial, and state legislation and regulation. However, regulatory compliance alone is not enough. Likewise, competent engineering is an important aspect of mining safety and health. Incorrect mine design and/or engineering can contribute to disastrous outcomes.

Above all, the industry must recognize that neither regulations nor engineering will be meaningful and effective unless companies are committed to using them appropriately. Everything that occurs in a mining company happens in the context of its culture which is driven by many factors, but primarily by leadership. This includes the behavior of miners to a great extent.

Photo of minersThe Center believes strongly that it is the proactive management of culture, leadership and systems (i.e., engineering, regulations, training, risk management, behavior, responsibility and accountability, communication, work procedures, auditing, emergency preparation and response, incident investigation, etc.) that leads to sustained safety and health excellence. The factors that drive safety excellence also significantly contribute to operational excellence and productivity. The Center has developed a set of tools to help mining companies optimize their organization development and achieve the level of safety and health performance to which they aspire. This unique approach is called 'whole systems design'.

The Center's Functions

The Center serves the greater mining community through four focus areas: research, education, consultation, and advocacy.

Center staff collaborates with private organizations and governmental entities to illuminate basic science questions associated with mining safety and health and to resolve practical problems associated with mining practices.

The Center offers generic and customized education and training courses in topics that directly impact safety and health performance. Our emphasis is on increasing organizational competencies associated with special emphasis on executives and senior management, line management, safety and health professionals, and engineers and other technical staff. These include, but are not limited to:

The Center offers fee-based consultation, and pro bono assistance where appropriate, on a wide variety of topics designed to help mining organizations improve safety and health performance. These include, but are not limited to:

Center staff work tirelessly to improve the global standards for miners in an effective and sustainable manner by working with all mining stakeholders.

The University of Utah

The University of Utah, located in Salt Lake City, is the flagship public institution of higher learning in Utah. Founded in 1850, it serves over 31,000 students from across the U.S. and the world in over 75 undergraduate and 90 graduate fields. It is ranked as one of the top public research universities in the nation and top science and engineering institutions in the world. With an emphasis on innovation and problem-solving, the University was ranked number one in 2011 in the U.S. for leveraging ideas generated from university research and innovation into the public domain.

The Center for Mining Safety and Health Excellence is housed in the Department of Mining Engineering; one of four departments in the College of Mines and Earth Science: geology and geophysics, meteorology, metallurgy, metallurgical engineering, and mining engineering. The College educates and prepares professional earth scientists, seismologists, geological engineers and educators, meteorologists and atmospheric scientists, physical and extractive metallurgists, mineral separation experts, and mining engineers.

The Department of Mining Engineering has an internationally recognized faculty with broad expertise in most disciplines associated with mining safety and health management: underground mining methods; coal mine design; mine automation and communication; process control; froth flotation and gravity separation; mine ventilation and air conditioning; fluid mechanics; operations research; surface mining methods; slope stability; explosives and blasting; mining-induced seismicity; theoretical and applied mechanics rock mechanics; ground control; rock fragmentation; carbon capture and sequestration; robotics and automation; large, complex system simulation and modeling; and atmospheric and subsurface gaseous and liquid contaminants.

Get Involved

The Center is a global resource for the mining community. However, it is a resource that can only reach its full potential in collaboration with mining stakeholders. For those interested in opportunities for volunteering, teaching, participation in research programs, or contributing to the Center's mission through a monetary gift, please contact Center staff for more information.

Last Updated: 11/8/21