Mining Project: Development and Evaluation of Prototype Kneepads for the Low-Seam Mining Industry
The purpose of this project is to reduce the likelihood of knee injuries in low-seam coal miners through a systematic approach that includes the development of guidelines for improved personal protective equipment and interventions.
|Keywords||cumulative trauma disorders, ergonomics, musculoskeletal disorders|
The objectives of this study are to reduce the risk of knee injury in low-seam coal miners by developing guidelines to improve personal protective equipment and other interventions such as job rotation strategies, work method changes, and equipment design changes. The project uses a combined experimental and computational approach with the end result being quantitative data to support the development of the guidelines. The unique strength of the team was created through diverse expertise in low-seam mining, mine safety, ergonomics, and biomechanical modeling. Results of the study will be disseminated through ICs, journal articles, conference presentations (both mining and ergonomics), and videos. The project is being proposed as a three-year intramural project (with contracts) to build upon the knowledge that was gained in the previous intramural project, "Successful Aging for Miners through Ergonomics."
Nearly all of the approximately 6,000 low-seam coal miners experience knee pain from their work at some point in their working life. For some the pain leads to knee injuries, with low-seam mine workers having a tenfold increase in knee injuries over higher seam mine workers. This high incidence of knee injuries has persisted for decades despite work done to develop better personal protective equipment. New developments in technology and the ability to determine effects on the internal structure of the knee lead us to believe that we will now be able to more successfully reduce the likelihood of knee injuries by providing guidelines for the design of kneepads and other interventions for mine workers. Such improvements would allow mine workers to work safer and longer in their jobs. The results from this study will be disseminated by NIOSH and MSHA and will allow miners to remain in their jobs longer and in greater health, with a greater potential of being fully active in their retirement.
Additionally, the tools (e.g., finite element models and musculoskeletal models) developed within the framework of this project have a multitude of future applications.