When a mining employee is injured during the course of their job, not only is it a blow to the health of the individual, but their absence also affects the overall productivity of the organization as a whole. The mining industry has been working to improve employee safety within a sector that can be hazardous. In order to encourage safe practices within individual organizations, the mining industry as a whole must demonstrate its efforts to enhance employee safety while on the job.
According to Patrick Coleman and John Kerkering, members of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the mining industry utilizes the Mine Safety and Health Administration for the collection and investigation of data related to employee injuries. From 1983 to 2004, MSHA recorded 321,011 cases of nonfatal injuries which resulted in lost workdays. In addition, figures show that coal mine operators comprised the majority of lost workdays during that time, whereas coal contractors and metal, nonmetal, stone, sand and gravel mine operators reported significantly fewer lost workdays. Although these numbers have declined in recent years, there is always room for improvement when it comes to the safety of workers.
Injuries related to mining equipment
While jobs within the mining industry include a number of dangers, Mining Safety stated that injuries relating to machines and haulage made up 47 percent of all fatalities and 22 percent of nonfatal incidents occurring between 2004 and 2008. The news source stated that the industry has several machine safety programs in place to lessen the amount of workplace injuries caused by machinery. However, because a machine breakdown can potentially result in injury if an employee is nearby at the time of failure, it is also incredibly important to prevent these occurrences by practicing equipment condition monitoring.
Mining companies have an array of technologies at their disposal through which to measure the condition and service lifespan of a key piece of large machinery. These systems can include an overarching mining monitor, strain and load sensors, as well as crack detection technology and tension monitoring. Technology included in an equipment monitoring array provides insight into the working order of a machine, and can enable operators to make decisions about scheduling maintenance and repairs to improve the functionality and safety of the apparatus.
By utilizing arrangements of this kind, businesses can perform predictive preventive maintenance on their machines, thereby working to prevent workplace accidents resulting from equipment breakdowns.
In addition to machine failure, a number of other factors relating to equipment can also lead to workplace accidents. Mining Safety stated that poor visibility due to less than adequate lighting near machinery can cause workers to slip or become entangled with a part. To prevent these accidents, workers should maintain proper lighting systems near machinery to ensure that they have optimal visibility on site.
Additionally, trucks used to haul materials and the routes they utilize can also present safety risks, according to Mine Safety. These issues include driver blind spots as well as the unsealed roads on which these machines travel. Drivers should be attentive and focused while transporting materials, and be sure to keep an eye out for workers on the ground and in other vehicles. Additionally, other employees should exercise caution when in close proximity to a truck or road. These individuals should also pay attention for incoming traffic and remain clear of congested routes whenever possible.
Another safety threat that is not usually highlighted is that of worker fatigue. Positions within the mining sector can be labor intensive and tiring, and workers should make individual judgments as far as their ability to carry out the demands of their jobs. Employees should be well rested and nourished so that they can remain focused on the tasks at hand.