Mining Publication: Evidence that Reducing Knee Injuries in Underground Mining may have a Substantial Impact on Mine Company Finances
The 2007 United States Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) database reported 217 knee injuries in underground coal. From workers’ compensation data, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) determined that the average cost per knee injury in this industry was $13,121.29 yielding nearly three million dollars as an estimated financial burden of these injuries on the industry in 2007. (1) Recently, NIOSH has investigated various types of interventions that underground coal mining companies may implement as means of decreasing mine workers’ risk for developing knee injuries. To encourage mining companies to implement this training program and interventions currently in development, NIOSH performed an analysis of workers’ compensation data for one underground coal mine in Illinois and six in Pennsylvania. The data were for the 2004, 2005, and 2006 claim years of each mine and included medical and indemnity costs for injuries to each body part, the number of injuries per body part, and the annual audited payroll. The rating formulas for the respective states were utilized to determine workers’ compensation premiums for 2008 which require injury data from 2004 to 2006. For each mine, the costs of workers’ compensation premiums were determined with all the injuries reported. A second analysis was then performed whereby all knee injuries were excluded. By eliminating knee injuries, the annual workers’ compensation premiums decreased by 1.1% to 16.2% depending on the mine’s size and injury statistics. The savings that were observed ranged from $4,206, a 1.3% savings, to $1,454,767, a 6.4% savings. The cost of implementing the NIOSH recommended interventions is minimal; therefore, an overall savings for the mine would be expected. Moreover, NIOSH is continuing to develop other interventions to reduce the risk of knee injury as well such as a novel kneepad designed specifically for the low-seam mining environment.