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AEP fuel supply's ergonomic approach to reducing back injuries.

O'Green JE; Peters RH; Cecala AB
Proceedings of the 23rd Annual Institute on Mining Health, Safety and Research, Blacksburg, Virginia, August 24-26, 1992. Tinney G, Bacho A, Karmis M, eds., Blacksburg, VA: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 1992 Aug; :187-195
Are employee problem-solving groups beneficial for improving miners' safety? Prior studies conducted at mining operations suggest that the answer is yes (Bell, 1987; Edwards, 1983). This paper describes how American Electric Power (AEP) is using employee problem-solving groups, called "ergonomic committees," to discover new strategies for reducing back injuries at its coal mining operations. In 1988 and 1989, 38 percent of all lost-time injuries at AEP Fuel Supply's mining operations were related to back problems. Management recognized that back injuries were a serious threat to their employees' well-being and represented a significant cost of doing business. Therefore, plans were made to tackle the problem. The first step was to define the extent of the problem and solicit ideas on the prevention or reduction of back injuries from the workforce. A survey was developed by the senior management of Fuel Supply and was sent to the entire workforce. The primary question was, "What programs, practices, and/or approaches can be developed to reduce back injuries throughout our operations?" Several hundred responses to the question were received. These responses were grouped into ten categories and sent back to the workforce for them to rate in order of importance, with 1 being the most important. The top six responses in order of importance as received were as follows: 1. Increase the use of mechanical or power-assisted lifting and handling devices. 2. Establish concentrated, advanced education and training in lifting, carrying, twisting, and placing materials. 3. Explore the use of hand grips and grab bars on equipment and materials. 4. Maintain appropriate haulage systems and roadways. 5. Participate in warm-up exercises during work. 6. Examine the practicability of repackaging bulk supplies to reduce weight and/or improve handling. After the rating was completed, an action plan was developed to address the workforce responses. The action plan included ergonomics, comprehensive training related to the physiology of the back and lifting techniques, work hardening, and employee selection. The majority of the responses fell in the area of ergonomics, followed by education and training. Experts were called in from a variety of sources, including The Ohio State University, the U. S. Bureau of Mines, and private consultants.
Miners; Mining-equipment; Mining-industry; Mine-workers; Ergonomics; Coal-mining; Coal-miners; Back-injuries; Injury-prevention; Injuries; Statistical-analysis; Statistical-analysis; Safety-practices; Safety-programs; Safety-monitoring
Publication Date
Document Type
Conference/Symposia Proceedings
Tinney G; Bacho A; Karmis M
Fiscal Year
NIOSH Division
Source Name
Proceedings of the 23rd Annual Institute on Mining Health, Safety and Research, Blacksburg, Virginia, August 24-26, 1992
Page last reviewed: October 1, 2021
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division