Marshall Awarded Grants to Develop Mining Industry Safety, Emergency Preparedness Videos

Marshall Awarded Grants to Develop Mining Industry Safety, Emergency Preparedness Videos

Huntington – The Marshall University Research Corporation has received a $130,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration Brookwood-Sago Mine Safety Grants program.  Marshall will be developing and piloting new safety and emergency preparedness videos that will be available for use throughout the mining industry.


The Brookwood-Sago program is a nationally competitive program established by Congress in the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response (MINER) Act of 2006 in honor of 25 miners who died in 2001 in Brookwood, Alabama, at the Jim Walter Resources No. 5 mine and in 2006 in Buckhannon, West Virginia, at the Sago Mine.


“We certainly want to remember those that lost their lives in the Brookwood and Sago mine disasters as well as their families at this time,” said Dr. Richard Begley, a professor of civil engineering at Marshall and principal investigator for the grant. “And we are very appreciative that our funding request was approved after a comprehensive grant application evaluation and selection process, and that we were the second highest grant awarded in the country this year.” 


The video production project will be a joint effort between Marshall’s Department of Civil Engineering and the Occupational Safety and Health Program (OSH), both in the College of Engineering and Computer Sciences, as well as Marshall’s College of Arts and Media, and Blackhawk Mining LLC, a Kentucky and West Virginia metallurgical coal production company.


“The training videos will be public domain and are a great example of successful internal collaborations at Marshall, and between industry and academia”, said James McIntosh, co-principal investigator for the grant and the chair of the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, where the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) program is housed.


“John Opperman, director of safety for Blackhawk Mining, OSH advisory board member and Marshall graduate, brought the idea of a partnership on this project to us,” McIntosh said. “The idea and project are the perfect example of how an advisory board and the college should work together, and we are pleased to be partnering with Blackhawk Mining.”


“When I saw the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) I knew Marshall would be a good partner for Blackhawk,” Opperman said. “The Marshall faculty, as well as the staff at the Marshall University Research Corporation, were very responsive and supportive in helping to get the grant application prepared and submitted. I anticipate that we will be pursuing additional grant applications in the future with Marshall University as our partner.”


The project will be completed with the help of two videographers from the College of Arts and Media: Melissa McCloud, the academic lab manager and safety officer at the art warehouse for the School of Art and Design, and Karen Fry, a part-time MURC employee and recent graduate of the School of Art and Design.


“I am very appreciative of the opportunity to work alongside my Marshall colleagues and our industry partner to help produce videos on safety and emergency preparedness,” McCloud said. “The MSHA agency is also responsible for enforcing safety at sites where clay and other raw materials for ceramics are mined. I will be able to use this experience to help increase the awareness that our current and future ceramics students have about the role that mining plays in the ceramics industry and their careers.” 


Dr. Isaac Wait, P.E., chair of the Marshall University civil engineering program said, “The sincere commitment to safety and environmental compliance among Blackhawk employees was readily apparent during a recent visit to underground and surface mines. I am confident they are an ideal partner for this project, and for demonstrating best practices in mine safety in the videos that will be produced.”