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Emily Haas, Sammies 2019 finalist and senior research behavioral scientist at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, discusses the human element of improving mine safety.

The Mine and Health Safety Administration will limit how much coal can be extracted from mines with a high risk of bumps. These mine bumps are caused by the collapse of support structures, and can cause injury. Emily Haas, senior research behavioral scientist at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, is a finalist for a Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal for her efforts to make mines safer. Haas says that leveraging the expertise of mining engineers can help to explain safety issues at mines, and lead to a safer operating culture.


“We really found that by doing some collaborative partnerships with engineers within our organization, we have been able to really tackle a lot of health and safety issues head on. If I’m in the field with engineers, they know a lot more about the processes than I do. I know more about the human side. I can really try to get people to open up about health and safety concerns that are going on,” Haas said. “I used to work in motorcycle safety. Really a lot of the risks that motorcyclists may perceive or not perceive on the road, there were a lot of similar issues in the mining industry. Trying to figure out what the worker’s tolerance for risk is, what the organization’s tolerance for risk is, and what can we do to mitigate that.”

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