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Using ergonomics to enhance safety and health in the U.S. mining industry.

Steiner-LJ; Torma-Krajewski-J; Schwerha-DJ
31st International Conference of Safety in Mines Research Institutes, 2-5 October 2005, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. Redbank, Queensland, Australia: Safety in Mines Testing and Research Station (Simtars), 2005 Oct; :106-111
Mining is one of the most physically demanding occupations in the United States. The median number of lost days per mining work-related musculoskeletal disorder (WMSD) is nearly three times higher than that observed nationally for all occupations. The interactions of the mine environment, equipment, tools, and procedures, along with worker behavior and habits, contribute to the risk of injury in this dynamic work environment. NIOSH researchers initiated a project with a surface coal mining company to implement a proactive ergonomics process aimed at reducing worker exposure to risk factors associated with WMSDs. These efforts have resulted in an ergonomics process implemented by an active ergonomics committee backed by strong employee participation. Employees use their knowledge of risk factors to report concerns about their jobs. During the first 3 years of using this process, the committee has responded to more than 50 employee risk factor concerns and implemented more than 20 job improvements. In addition to the problem of high WMSD rates, demographic trends indicate that the median age of mine workers will increase over the next decade. Because WMSDs tend to increase and become more severe withe age, ongoing research aimed at helping miners age successfully through ergonomics promotes age-related interventions. The success of this research has far-reaching impact for the mining industry because it provides a model for implementing ergonomics processes and age-specific interventions.
Mining-industry; Safety-research; Ergonomics; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Musculoskeletal-system-disorders; Risk-factors; Employees; Age-groups; Age-factors; Miners; Back-injuries; Coal-mining; Materials-handling; Safety-programs; Miners; Training; Surface-mining
NIOSH Pittsburgh Research Laboratory, P.O. Box 18070, Pittsburgh, PA 15236
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31st International Conference of Safety in Mines Research Institutes, 2-5 October 2005, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division