Mine Health and Safety Academy

Raleigh Register
September 7, 1971

Temporary Quarters

Mine Health And Safety Academy Opens Here

Register Reporter

"Health and safety is not just a frill or passing involvement - it is an essential to protect the industry's most important asset, the miner," new enrollees in the Mine Health and Safety Academy opened in Beckley today were told by Donald P. Schlick, assistant director of Coal Mine Health and Safety for the U. S. Bureau of Mines.

Schlick spoke to about 40 men who will undergo 18 months of training in coal mine health and safety at the academy directed by James R. O'Neal of Oak Hill and Washington, D. C.

AN ORIENTATION program for the students began this morning in the Raleigh County Armory under the direction of Cornelius Harris of Pittsburgh, personnel management specialist, and will be transferred to temporary quarters on South Fayette Street, probably later this week when remodeling is completed and furniture is delivered.

A wide range of backgrounds from ninth grade educations to a master's degree will make a certain amount of individualized training necessary, O'Neal said this morning. Following the initial orientation, O'Neal said, the men will go into the field for three weeks of training in mines in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia and Kentucky before returning to Beckley for further Study.

Training in addition to the obvious work on mine ventilation, blasting, dust and other safety related subjects will include English, mathematics, the social aspects of the industry, a limited exposure to psychology, environmental problems, and the background of the development of the Bureau of Mines.

O'NEAL SAID he anticipates working with a staff of six to 10 instructors and the necessary clerical or backup staff.

Instructors, he said, will use available texts but in many instances will develop their own texts.

Officials in Beckley today to assist with opening the program in addition to O'Neal and Schlick include Wayne Grames, chief of the division of education and training operation, Washington, D. C.

"We must have people who know the right ventilation methods, who know blasting methods and the safest way to mine, and we must train the miner in safe and efficient habits," Schlick said in his address.

THE BUREAU has been criticized as too inbred with industry, Schlick said, adding, "It has been of necessity and like all inbreeding has produced questionable results in the eyes of some of our critics.

"The Academy is an attempt to stop this . . . to introduce a new stain . . . to create a new profession - the coal mine health and safety enforcement official.

"Coal mining has changed from a ma and pa industry to a business with corporate headquarters in metropolitan areas where decisions are made far from the men in the fields, and a dock strike in Virginia can bankrupt a coal company in Kentucky."

THE INDUSTRY has gone from ledgers to computers in the short span of five years, Schlick said, but, "You have 18 months to learn the persistent truths and new facts which changed the business, our lives and our professional development.

"Coal mining is one of the new growth industries - necessary for development and for energy demands which are beginning to surface.

"This Academy is an experiment that will grow into a tradition, an experience that will grow into a formula for success [?] the start of something big," Schlick concluded, "We have the best, most experienced staff of mining health and safety people in the world to teach - and to learn."

THE DIRECTOR of the Academy, O'Neal, holds the master's degree in mining engineering from West Virginia University, has taught extension classes in mining and has been the assistant director of mining extension at WVU. He spent some 15 years in the mining industry, most recently with Allied Chemical Corp., Semet-Solvey Division at Harewood as safety supervisor. Teams of mine rescue and first aid workers from this mine have been consistent winners in competitive events.

Eventually a multi-million dollar facility to house the Academy is to be built at the Raleigh County Airport on land donated by the Airport to the Bureau of Mines for the purpose. The campus will include a dormitory, gymnasium, cafeteria, and a classroom mine on the site according to present plans. Target date for the new facility is 1974.


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