Dr. Jeffrey Kohler, the undergraduate program chair of mining engineering at Penn State University, had been involved with mine safety for more than 45 years. Recently, he spoke with the National Mining Association (NMA) about a range of topics, including NMA’s CORESafety program.
Kohler explained that the mining industry has an uphill climb when it comes to perception of the industry by the general public, but that the industry itself is performing well.
“The public’s misunderstanding of the mining industry is quite profound. Many people don’t understand why we need “mining.” They think it is irrelevant, and often they think it’s dirty, dangerous, or environmentally destructive,” Kohler said in the interview that can be found here. “In reality, it’s very different. Safety, environmental sustainability, social responsibility are core values for most mining companies today. Admittedly that was not the case in the past century.
“Take safety for example: there was a time when mining ranked as one of the most dangerous occupations, whereas today it doesn’t even make the top 10 list. Agriculture, fishing, and forestry are all more dangerous than mining, and metal mining is ranked even safer than general industry. The public should know that the mining industry is taking responsibility and being proactive to prevent accidents from happening,” said Kohler.
One of the ways that the industry has taken responsibility is through the creation and participation in the CORESafety program. Established by NMA, and used by more than 35 member companies of the association, the initiative is an industry-driven approach to mining safety and health that is designed to prevent accidents before they happen by utilizing a management system that provides organizational competencies defined in 20 modules. Each module includes performance expectations and timelines to ensure steady progress toward the goal of zero fatalities.
TheCORESafety framework includes a safety and health management system based on three ore organizational competencies… Leadership, management and assurance and these are managed through continual improvement principles of Plan, Do, Check and Act. CORESafety was endorsed by SME in 2014.
These competencies are further defined in 12 modules. Each module includes performance expectations and timelines to ensure steady progress toward the goal of achieving zero.
“The CORESafety approach is the biggest “game changer” in my career, and I fully expect it will result in unprecedented levels of improvement in safety when it is fully implemented throughout the industry,” said Kohler. “There’s another point I’d like to make about the goal. A goal of zero fatalities is very aggressive, and some would argue too much so. I believe it is important to set lofty goals and work hard to achieve them. However, if we fall short of the goal, it doesn’t mean that the program failed to drive improvements that would otherwise never have happened.”
For the full interview with Kohler, or to learn more the CORESafety program visit the CORESafety webpage.