Updating Health & Safety Education

Oct. 7, 2021

Mine Rescue.jpg

Mine rescue training
Mine rescue training in the SX Mining Laboratory

Each year, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) inspects over 14,000 mines across the US. Each of them needs safety and health-minded professionals, and the need for dedicated, well-trained specialists in mine health and safety is growing. With proper knowledge, skills, and attitudes these front-line professional miners can mitigate the occupational risks associated with mining.

The University of Arizona Graduate Certificate in Mining Occupational Safety and Health is getting an overhaul. Based on industry input and the analysis of gaps in academic offerings carried out last year, the Department of Mining and Geological Engineering is introducing new courses and refreshing the program, including expansion to both in-person and on-line offerings.

Dr. Eric Lutz, Director of the International Safety, Health and Risk Center, developed and teaches three new courses. Miner Health – Fitness for duty, mitigating exposures, and managing disease risk for undergraduates and graduates was first offered in the current semester. Lutz: “This course dives deeply into the cause-effect of miner health and diseases. We are discussing qualitative and quantitative assessment tools to validate controls and mitigate mine-site health risks.”

Two more courses are on track to start in the Spring semester 2022. One is titled Historic and Contemporary Role of US Regulatory Agencies and delves into the founding, history, and impact of the Occupational Safety and Health Agency (OSHA), Mining Safety and Health Agency (MSHA), and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Effective and efficient prevention, response, and recovery from emergencies and disasters is a business necessity for every mine operation. Therefore, a course called Mine Emergencies and Disasters – Prevention, Response, and Recovery will dive deeply into the history of major mine disasters, resultant federal regulatory responses, best practices in disaster risk management, and current practices in mine rescue, self-escape, and business continuity.

With this new setup, the Graduate Certificate in Mining Occupational Safety and Health focuses on practical tools and the Department hopes the approach improves access for both current students and those working professionals who need to balance professional development with a full-time job.

The certificate will comprise of 15 units, with opportunities for individualization using elective courses and a capstone project. Lutz: “This program is a great choice for working professionals looking to develop their skills. It is specifically targeted at aspiring and practicing engineers and scientists who are looking to enhance their knowledge and occupational safety and health skill-set.”