A case-case comparison of ergonomic exposures associated with musculoskeletal injuries in maintenance workers of mineral processing mills and coal preparation plants
Heberger, John Robert
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There is a focus in the mining industry to reduce injury of machine maintenance workers in mills and preparation plants by reducing exposure to awkward postures, high force exertions, and repetition posed by mining tasks. The goal of this study is to identify work related environmental and postural injury risk factors for five common maintenance tasks which occur in mills and preparation plants (welding, screen replacement, greasing bearings, conveyor roller replacement, and housekeeping) and to determine associations between these tasks and common injuries. This was achieved by systematically analyzing video of various workers completing these common maintenance tasks. To evaluate the importance of the common musculoskeletal injuries sustained by miners performing common maintenance tasks, a case-case comparison was performed and logistic regression models were developed for each injury investigated. Reporting odds ratios are used to determine the association between the maintenance tasks and injury, after adjusting for age and mining experience. Video analysis of greasing job tasks indicated those workers are exposed to slip/trip/fall and knee hazards, and the logistic regression models supported the results for knee injuries (ROR adj = 2.84, 95% CI = 1.44 - 5.62) and slips/strips/falls (ROR adj = 3.30, 95% CI = 1.84 - 5.92). Other notable results included the positive association identified between welding tasks and hand/finger lacerations, as well as the positive association between conveyor roller maintenance and hand/finger fractures. The study is limited to rather small sample of video exposure data (n=38) and MSHA data analysis results can only be generalized to those who have some type of injury, however the results are still noteworthy. Knowing what the injury risk factors are for specific jobs is important when trying to reduce injury. This type of analysis may not only apply to maintenance workers in mills and prep plants, but to all industrial maintenance workers in a variety of industries.