Mining doesn't need to be dangerous. The industry's fatality rate has dropped over the years due to strict safety protocols and legislation. Although zero harm is not yet achieved, it is the standard that mining companies will continue to strive for. A mining medicine researcher says that understanding and being aware of your environment are the first steps to preventing sickness or injury at work.
For miners, the biggest concern is dust inhalation. Continual inhalation of coal dust can lead to what's commonly called 'miner's lung' or ‘black lung'. Pneumoconiosis, an occupational lung disease, is the cause of miner's lungs. Although it can be severe, symptoms such as shortness of breath or scarring of the lung tissue may lead to ongoing respiratory problems. Although legal measures have been in place for years to prevent black lung, there are still cases among coal miners.
Companies in mining need to create a dust control strategy. Supervisors must ensure that dust control systems work properly for each shift. Workers in mines should be taught about the dangers of being too exposed to coal mine dust.
When dust control protection is being maintained, installed or repaired, respiratory protection must be used. It is important to have regular medical screening.
Mines can be very noisy due to the constant drilling and heavy machinery. This can lead to hearing damage. It can be very easy to get used to loud noises mentally, but this doesn't mean there isn't damage. Most hearing damage is not noticed until long after exposure to loud noises.
Experts explain that excessive noise exposure can lead to ringing in the ears, sleep disturbances and concentration problems. They also explain that permanent hearing loss can be caused by tinnitus.
Mining companies must evaluate the working conditions and noise exposure of workers to protect them from noise. To reduce exposure, you can apply engineering controls to the noise source or along its path. This includes vibration dampeners and absorptive panels.
It is important to maintain machines regularly in order to reduce noise. Employers must ensure that employees who are exposed to noise have proper hearing protection, and provide the necessary training and health surveillance records.
Whole Body Vibration
Whole body vibration (WBV), a slow-forming physical hazard, is common in miners and those who work with heavy machinery. WBV in the mining environment can be caused by sitting too much on machinery (which is the majority of the time in extraction) or standing while working on a jumbo operator.
Some vibrations are acceptable, but dangerous when they involve uneven surfaces or vehicle activity, such as pushing material in a bulldozer or ripping it, and engine vibrations.
WBV symptoms include vision impairment, musculoskeletal problems, reproductive damage in women, vision impairment, digestive problems, and cardiovascular changes. Reducing exposure is a way to reduce health risks. This should be the first thing that mining companies do. This could include filling potholes in unmade roads, minimizing the transportation of goods and materials, and replacing manned machines with unmanned ones such as remote controlled conveyors.
Supervisors should limit the amount of time that employees use the machine daily if possible to reduce risks. Employees should receive proper instruction and training. They should also be monitored for signs and symptoms of back problems.
Musculoskeletal diseases (MSDs), are any problem affecting bones, blood vessels, and nerves. Mine workers face a wide range of health risks. Musculoskeletal injury can be caused by a fall, trip, or heavy lifting. However, more severe injuries occur gradually over time. This could be caused by repetitive strains or heavy lifting.
Every workplace safety and health program must include a preventive component to avoid MSDs. Employers should assess the job-related MSD hazards and set up controls to limit workers' exposure. This will ensure a safe and healthy workplace.
Workers should also be trained and advised about MSD hazards at work and encouraged to take part in safety and health programs by reporting MSD symptoms to their supervisors early. Employers must ensure that preventive measures are being taken.
Thermal stress, also known as heat stress, is a common risk for miners. Mining environments can be very hot and humid. This can lead to thermal stress in workers.
Overexposure to heat or humidity can make the body tired and disoriented. This can also lead to heat stroke and other serious health issues. Companies must conduct a heat stress risk assessment if there is any possibility of heat stress. This includes the work rate, climate, worker clothing, and respiratory protection equipment. Control the temperature with engineering solutions. Provide mechanical aids wherever possible to reduce the work rate and regulate the time spent in hot environments.
Personal protective equipment, such as special protective clothing with personal cooling systems or breathable fabric, should also be available. Companies should also provide training to workers, particularly young workers, and monitor workers at risk.
Miners are frequently exposed to dangerous chemicals. Polymeric chemicals are the most dangerous chemicals in a coal mine environment.
No matter what chemicals you are working in close proximity to or how toxic they may be, it is important to wear appropriate safety gear and take precautions to reduce your exposure. Experts point out that chemical burns, respiratory issues and poisoning are all possible risks.
Every chemical poses a unique set of hazards that must be managed properly in order to ensure worker safety. Employers need to perform risk assessments to determine the best practices. Standard operating procedures (SOPs) should be developed that address the proper use of personal protective equipment, safe handling and safe disposal.
Ventilation, along with general cleanliness and housekeeping, is important in minimizing exposure. Training and drills regarding chemical hygiene and spill response plans should be done.
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