WHEELING— Working to ensure coal miner safety and providing cutting-edge equipment for those working beneath the earth’s surface is the focus of the third annual International Mining Health & Safety Symposium, which will be held July 20-22 in Salt Lake City. Coordinated by Wheeling Jesuit University’s National Technology Transfer Center, the event will bring together hundreds of national and international leaders from the coal industry, labor and government to find solutions to the many challenges the coal mining industry is facing. “The purpose of the symposium is to keep pace with technology advancements in safety,” said J. Davitt McAteer, vice president for sponsored programs at WJU and former mine safety advisor to Gov. Joe Manchin. “This commitment arose from horrible tragedies with human cost. Our only goal here is to make mining safer.” The symposium will open with a moment of silence in memory of the Crandall Canyon, Utah, miners who were lost in the catastrophic disaster of 2007. Because of the tragedy, which was attributed to coal bumps, several panel discussions during the symposium will focus on preventing and controlling coal bumps via engineering design. Post-accident communication, tracking systems technologies and safety innovations from other industries that could be beneficial in a coal mine setting will also be discussed. Breakout sessions will look at the Mine Safety & Health Administration’s (MSHA) approval and certification process for new technologies as well as legal issues in mine safety. In addition to panel discussions, an exhibit area showcasing innovations that may help officials reach the goal of ensuring safer coal mines will be part of the event. “Innovation is the key to a major breakthrough in mine safety,” McAteer said. “We know that we can make mining safer for everyone involved, and we are bound and determined to do this.” West Virginia became a national focal point of mine safety following the Sago and Aracoma mine accidents in 2006 that killed 14 miners. The deaths served as a reminder of coal mining dangers and sparked a national discussion about safety standards and emergency equipment. As a result, the International Mining Health & Safety Symposium was born at WJU. In a letter, Manchin commended Utah Gov. Jon M. Huntsman Jr. for co-hosting the symposium. “As you know, the first two symposiums were held in Wheeling, W.Va., and it is an effort we are quite proud of. It focuses the attention of the mining industry and the public on how to improve the critical area of mine safety and health,” Manchin wrote. The 2008 symposium is sponsored by MSHA, the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health, the United Mine Workers of America, the State of Utah and the Utah Labor Commission. For more information, visit www.nttc.edu.