Reducing the hurt

POOR design of equipment, vehicles and tools topped the list of major obstacles in the way of reducing musculoskeletal injuries in New South Wales coal mines, according to a recent survey.
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Staff Reporter

Published in March 2010 Australian Longwall Magazine

The survey was commissioned by NSW Government Industry and Investment as part of its push to reduce musculoskeletal injuries by at least 40% by the end of the 2012 financial year.

A mail survey was sent to 971 NSW minesites, 27% of which responded, and 22% of the respondents from coal mines.

The survey noted the most commonly reported injuries at coal mines, up to almost 80%, were sprains and strains. Slips, trips and falls came in second.

For open cut coal mines, the most common causes of injury were lifting and handling objects including cables, hoses and other objects when servicing equipment, followed by injuries from slips, trips and falls.

For underground coal mines, the most common cause of injury was manual handling, with roof bolting and cable handling specifically mentioned.

The most reported successful interventions in underground coal mines were those that improved job design.

These included the installation of a cable recovery winder, a compressed air joint belt clipping machine, lifting devices, along with raising and securing vent tubes. Improved design and maintenance of roadways and walkways was also noted.

Respondents reported that management, followed by employees, were most serious about preventing injuries onsite.

Common impediments to reducing musculoskeletal injuries included poor design of equipment, vehicles and tools, a lack oftime for prevention, a lack of choice when buying specialised vehicles, equipment and tools, and insufficient workers to get the job done.

Money and knowledge were not indicated as real barriers to reducing injuries.

For all sites, respondents identified the provision of education and training, along with information about intervention strategies that had worked elsewhere.

In addition, coal sites reported that input from employees on site projects would be of assistance.

Both coal and metalliferous sites reported that information about choosing vehicles, equipment and tools to minimise injury would be of assistance.