Introduction: the restricted workspace present in low-seam coal mines forces workers to adopt awkward working postures (kneeling and stooping), which place high physical demands on the knee and lower back. Method: this article provides an analysis of injury claims for eight mining companies operating low-seam coal mines during calendar years 1996-2008. All cost data were normalized using data on the cost of medical care (MPI) as provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Results: results of the analysis indicate that the knee was the body part that led in terms of claim cost ($4.2 million), followed by injuries to the lower back ($2.7 million). While the average cost per injury for these body parts was $13,100 and $14,400, respectively (close to the average cost of an injury overall), the high frequency of these injuries resulted in their preeminence in terms of cost. Analysis of data from individual mining companies suggest that knee and lower back injuries were a consistent problem across companies, as these injuries were each among the top five most costly part of body for seven out of eight companies studied. Application/Impact: results of this investigation suggest that efforts to reduce the frequency of knee and low back injuries in low-seam mines have the potential to create substantial cost savings.
Biomechanics; Body-mechanics; Injuries; Mine-workers; Musculoskeletal-system-disorders; Occupational-hazards; Posture; Risk-analysis; Risk-factors; Statistical-analysis; Work-analysis; Work-environment; Worker-health; Work-operations; Workplace-studies; Work-practices;
Author Keywords: Mining; Knee disorders; Low back disorders; Restricted workspace; Posture; Musculoskeletal disorders; Injury costs