Mining Publication: The Effects of Restricted Workspace on Lumbar Spine Loading
Coal miners often handle heavy electrical power cables, weighing up to 10 kg per meter. These cables are manually lifted and attached to the mine roof to prevent damage from mobile underground equipment. Data suggest that workers who commonly perform cable-handling tasks experience a high rate of lost-time back injuries. In this study, six male underground miners performed a total of 12 cable-hanging tasks in standing, stooping, and kneeling postures, during which kinematic and ground reaction force data were collected. Reductions in vertical workspace were found to result in a linear increase in the peak moment experienced by the lumbar spine (p < 0.05). In restricted postures, peak moments were not significantly different in stooping vs. kneeling postures (p > 0.05). Average lumbopelvic flexion during the tasks was highest in stooping conditions, followed by standing and kneeling exertions (p < 0.05). Implications of this data with respect to design of cable handling tasks are presented and discussed.