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What works (and what doesn't) in mining ergonomics.

Gallagher S
Holmes Saf Assn Bull 1999 Nov; :9-13
When the Bureau of Mines started an ergonomics research program in the early 1980s, some quarters of the industry expressed a great deal of skepticism and pessimism that ergonomic approaches could be applied successfully in underground mining. A number of fundamental ergonomics techniques for reducing injuries appeared to be impractical and unusable in many mining locations. For example, an ergonomist tries to design a job so that it eliminates, or at least reduces, unnecessary and uncomfortable body positions that contribute to the risk of injury. When dealing with a factory worker who continuously bends down to pick up items from the floor, a simple solution is to provide a lift table. The lift table raises the materials to a height that allows the worker to remain standing upright to complete the job. However, such a solution requires sufficient space to stand up in-- a luxury not afforded in many underground mines compel employees to work in awkward postures, and there's not a lot an ergonomist can do about it. Another technique is to provide mechanical devices to assist with lifting duties. Again, these devices often require more space than what is available, both in underground and surface operations. Designing solutions that will work well in a variety of complex dynamic mining surroundings is especially challenging. Controlling other environmental factors - such as uneven or slippery walking surfaces and climate or atmospheric problems - present additional obstacles to using many of the tradition methods of reducing risks of injuries. In spite of the difficulties mentioned above, some mining companies began to experiment with ergonomics programs in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Mineral-processing; Mine-workers; Mine-shafts; Mining-industry; Miners; Coal-mining; Coal-miners; Ergonomics; Statistical-analysis; Safety-measures; Safety-practices; Safety-programs
Publication Date
Document Type
Journal Article
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NIOSH Division
Source Name
Holmes Safety Association Bulletin
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division