Dr. George W. Luxbacher
Deputy Associate Director for Mining, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
“Mining Safety and Health Research for a Rapidly Changing Industry”
Federal mining health and safety research in the United States began with the establishment of the U. S. Bureau of Mines in 1910 under the direction of Joseph Holmes. Acknowledging the success of that research in protecting miners and recognizing that many mine safety and health needs are either unique to mining or require mining-specific emphasis, when the USBM was closed Congress transferred this responsibility to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), directing NIOSH “to preserve the integrity of mine safety and health research ….”. The NIOSH Mining Program, now in its 26th year, has had significant impact on health and safety across all the industry sectors. In addition to intramural research conducted at the Pittsburgh and Spokane Mining Research Divisions, utilizing unique world-class facilities, the Mining Program has a robust extramural program, including substantial funding for university research activities. The mining industry has changed significantly during this time in terms of the workforce, technology, and critical issues and challenges; the NIOSH Mining Program has adapted accordingly. This presentation will give an overview of NIOSH mining research, as well as the current and future research needs of mining industry.
Dr. Luxbacher is the Deputy Associate Director for Mining at NIOSH, where he is responsible for extramural research funding under the MINER Act program, as well as assisting in the management of the overall Mining Program. Dr. Luxbacher received his Ph.D. from Penn State where he conducted research in the areas of mine ventilation and electrical systems. He started his mining career as a union miner underground with Pittsburgh Coal Company, a then-subsidiary of Consolidation Coal Corporation, later working for Island Creek Coal Company in research, engineering, and mergers and acquisitions roles through 1993 (when Island Creek was sold to Consol), then various subsidiaries of Occidental Petroleum dealing with legacy mining issues in coal, copper, and oil shale, as well as chemical and O&G production, before taking early retirement from Occidental in 2014. Dr. Luxbacher then did several years of consulting before joining NIOSH in 2016 to manage the extramural research portfolio within the Mining Program, accepting the role of Deputy ADM in 2018. Dr. Luxbacher is a Past-President of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration (2008) and a twice Past President of the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers (2008, 2020). Dr. Luxbacher has served as an ABET Program Evaluator in Mining Engineering for many years and is on the Industry Professional Advisory Committee for the Penn State mining engineering program.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970external icon established NIOSH as a research agency focused on the study of worker safety and health, and empowering employers and workers to create safe and healthy workplaces. NIOSH is part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It has the mandate to assure “every man and woman in the Nation safe and healthful working conditions and to preserve our human resources.” NIOSH has more than 1,300 employees from a diverse set of fields including epidemiology, medicine, nursing, industrial hygiene, safety, psychology, chemistry, statistics, economics, and many branches of engineering.