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J Occup Environ Hyg. 2009 Oct;6(10):D55-62. doi: 10.1080/15459620903146636.

Using ergonomics to enhance safe production at a surface coal mine--a case study with powder crews.

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  • 1Pittsburgh Research Laboratory, National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, Arvada, Colorado, USA.


Job tasks that involve exposure to work-related musculoskeletal disorder (WMSD) risk factors may impact both the risk of injury and production downtime. Common WMSD risks factors associated with mining tasks include forceful exertions, awkward postures, repetitive motion, jolting and jarring, forceful gripping, contact stress, and whole body and segmental vibration. Mining environments that expose workers to temperature/humidity extremes, windy conditions, and slippery and uneven walking surfaces also contribute to injury risk. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) researchers worked with powder crew members from the Bridger Coal Company to identify and rank routine work tasks based on perceived exposure to WMSD risk factors. This article presents the process followed to identify tasks that workers believed involved the greatest exposure to risk factors and discusses risk reduction strategies. Specifically, the proposed prill truck design changes addressed cab ingress/egress, loading blast holes, and access to the upper deck of the prill truck.

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