Manual materials handling is the principal source of compensable injuries in the American work force, and four out of five of these injuries will affect the lower back.
Many of the items that must be moved at mining operations are heavy, bulky, and/or awkward to handle. The items most frequently being handled when back injuries occur include bags, drums, screens, buckets, guards/covers/doors, bags/boxes of explosives, gas cylinders, belt rollers, and rock. Getting necessary help and coordinating movements with your helper(s) is very important in many of these cases. Use of mechanical lifting/moving aids and safe lifting techniques are likewise important.
Safe site-specific standard operating procedures should be established for common jobs like changing screens and belt rollers, handling drums and gas cylinders, etc.
- Material handling tasks should be designed to minimize the weight, range of motion, carrying distance, and frequency of the activity.
- Work methods and stations should be designed to minimize the distance between the person and the object being handled.
- Repetitive or sustained twisting, stretching, or leaning to one side are undesirable.
- Corrections could include repositioning bins and moving employees closer to parts and conveyors.
- Store heavy objects at waist level.
- Provide lift-assist devices, and lift tables.
Other factors may include constraints on posture, work rates imposed by the process, and insufficient rest or recovery time. Sometimes the work can be varied, allowing one set of muscles to rest while another is used.When placing blocks under a load:
- Keep hands in the clear.
- Blocking materials should be large and strong enough to support the load safely.
- Donít use materials with cracks, rounded corners, splintered pieces, or dry rot for blocking.