Underground mining tasks that require workers to physically exert themselves include handling cable, installing roof bolts, shoveling belt, building ventilation stoppings, and operating haulage vehicles. With an aging workforce, the recovery times are longer, leading to reduced quality of life for the workforce and increased costs for the company.
A deliberate effort to reduce risk factors such as forceful exertions, awkward postures, vibration exposure, as well as repetition and duration, is necessary to reduce these injuries and their associated costs.
The December issue of American Longwall Magazine will feature research from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health on a participative risk reduction process that enables mines to make a proactive effort to reduce these injuries when designing jobs, ordering or retrofitting equipment and selecting tools.
A worker with a musculoskeletal injury is likely to suffer the same injury again. It is very important to prevent these injuries rather than waiting for them to occur and then reacting to them.