Mining Publication: Evaluation of Work Positions used by Continuous Miner Operators in Underground Coal Mines
Operation of underground coal mine mobile equipment is usually done in a restricted workspace with reduced visibility. This work environment puts machine operators in awkward postures for tasks that require awareness of their surroundings and fast reactions to avoid hazardous situations. Using experienced equipment operators as a source, researchers conducted an investigation that developed a method to gather data on the needs and practices of machine operators while controlling the machine and the reasons for needing particular operational cues. The method used was an interview technique including a survey questionnaire and visual aids. The data gathered defined operator cues and work positions for the cutting and tramming phases of remote controlled continuous mining machines used in underground coal mines. Analysis techniques to determine which cues an operator sees from a variety of positions utilizing a computer simulation is shown to be potentially useful to the mining industry for design of work practices and workplace layout and could impact equipment design and selection for improved worker safety. Conclusions indicate that the survey was a good research tool to collect data and helped investigators understand important visual cues. Using this information, researchers were able to analyze the visual cues an operator can see from a given work position and posture.