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Developing an innovative multi-disciplinary approach: electric arc-induced injuries in the mining industry.

Kowalski-Trakofler KM; Brnich MJ; Cawley JC; Homce GT; Vaught C; Yenchek MR
NOIRS 2003-Abstracts of the National Occupational Injury Research Symposium 2003, October 28-30, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh, PA: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 2003 Oct; :82
This presentation discusses an innovative, multidisciplinary method developed by PRL researchers to examine ways to reduce the incidence and severity of traumatic injuries resulting from electric arc blasts in the mining industry. The problem is defined and the methodology detailed. In addition, preliminary results are presented with a discussion of future direction. Maintenance or repair of electrical equipment is responsible for approximately one-half of all mine electrical injuries and fatalities and often results in electrical arcing and burn injury to workers. Two-thirds of nonfatal mine electrical injuries are burns. Electrical arc burn injuries are also a serious problem in other industries, e.g., construction. The PRL project is focused on the identification and development of specific interventions to reduce worker exposure to electrical arc energy. The goal of the problem-solving focus was to move beyond one-dimensional thinking. The methodology presented was developed within Sociotechnical Systems Theory, which views the problem from a holistic, comprehensive, interdisciplinary viewpoint. This theory is guided by two principal concepts. First, most task-oriented situations involve a social system of people needed for the work and a technological system made up of the tools and technology necessary to get the work done. Second, these interrelated systems of people, tools, and activities are in turn part of a larger environment that includes and is influenced by the sociotechnical system. The open-structure approach to real-world situations highlights the need for a basic understanding of organizational phenomena. Within this framework, PRL researchers with expertise in electrical and mining engineering, sociology, and psychology developed an approach to understand and analyze this serious problem. In addition to the methodology, preliminary results of the data analysis and future directions will be discussed.
Electrical burns; Electrical equipment; Electrical hazards; Electrical safety; Mining industry; Burns; Injuries; Traumatic injuries; Sociology; Psychology; Injury prevention; Accident prevention; Miners; Mine workers
NIOSH Pittsburgh Research Laboratory, P.O. Box 18070, Pittsburgh, PA 15236
Publication Date
Document Type
Abstract; Conference/Symposia Proceedings
Fiscal Year
NIOSH Division
Priority Area
Research Tools and Approaches: Control Technology and Personal Protective Equipment
Source Name
NOIRS 2003-Abstracts of the National Occupational Injury Research Symposium 2003, October 28-30, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Page last reviewed: June 15, 2021
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division