Mining Publication: Keeping Knees Healthy in Restricted Work Spaces: Applications in Low-Seam Mining
Many challenges are faced by workers in lower-seam (42 inches or less) mines. The lower-seam heights confine mine workers to their knees as they perform their daily tasks such as installing roof bolts, delivering supplies, repairing belt, or cutting coal. Miners working in these lower seams often consider kneepads to be their only line of defense against knee injuries. However, healthy knees do not start and stop with kneepads. Other interventions such as changing postures, proper hygiene, and work station design may also be used to reduce the risk of mine workers for developing knee injuries. Incorporating these and many other interventions into a mine worker's "way of life" is an important step to ensuring a long, healthy career and retirement. Keeping knees healthy is also a key aspect to reducing costs in low-seam mines as the industry battles rising health care costs, and training/recruitment of replacement workers is time-consuming and costly. Educating the workforce about the possible interventions to reduce knee injury risk is a primary objective of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Pittsburgh Research Laboratory (PRL). Therefore, NIOSH researchers, along with industry and academia, developed a training package to educate the mining community about some possible interventions beyond kneepads that may be used to help decrease knee injury rates. Increased awareness and simple changes are the first steps to reducing knee injuries. This document is an overview of how this training was developed, including a glossary of terms.