Project Summary

Underground mines are often dangerous confined environments with poor visibility. While recent cap lamps have been slightly updated, the functionality of these lamps has been unchanged since the 1914. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health designed a LED cap lamp that improves worker safety by better distributing light using specialized, programmable optics.

Project Team

Team Members
John Sammarco, CDC
Miguel Reyes, CDC
Timothy Matty, CDC
Sean Gallagher, CDC
Timothy Lutz, CDC
Grant King, CDC

Project Details

Underground mines are dangerous environments that often include dust, confined spaces and poor visibility. Statistics show that slip, trip, and fall (STF) accidents are the second leading cause of accidents in underground mining.  A cap lamp is the most important source of light for miners who depend heavily on visual cues to detect STF hazards and strike and pinning hazards posed by mining machinery.

While recent cap lamps have begun to incorporate light-emitting diode (LED) technology, the functionality of these cap lamps has been essentially unchanged since the 1914 Edison cap lamp.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) (part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) LED cap lamp design improves worker safety by better distributing light using specialized, programmable optics. This helps workers see the immediate hazards in their surroundings more easily. Human subject test results comparing the NIOSH cap lamp to commercially available LED cap lamps show detection time improvements of up to 194% in floor hazard detection and up to 79% in peripheral motion detection, and also as much as 54% reduction in disability glare.

The knowledge gained from this research has resulted in five major changes in the international standard for cap lamps, benefitting miners world-wide.   It is also expected to crossover to other industries and benefit other workers that use personal lighting such as military, security, and search and rescue personnel.

Additional Information


HHS Innovates is one of the ways we are building an innovative culture at the Department of Health and Human Services. HHS Innovates is a contest that recognizes and rewards action taken on good ideas. To date, HHS employees have submitted nominations of innovations for nearly 500 exciting new staff-driven innovative projects, and our employees have cast over 60,000 votes to select 42 finalists over seven rounds. This project is one of the finalists of HHS Innovates. Learn more about HHS Innovates.