Working Armour Control of Sprains Train Injuries 20251

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    Effectiveness of Current Methods to control Sprain and Strain injuries inthe Coal industry Julie Armour Working Armour Prepared with the support of a Coal Services Health and Safety Trust grantwww.workingarmour.com.au ABN: 47 336 892 482  Table of Contents Executive summary..............................................................................................................................3   Research question................................................................................................................................5   Method..................................................................................................................................................6   Stage one..........................................................................................................................................6   Stage two..........................................................................................................................................6   Results..................................................................................................................................................8   Stage one..........................................................................................................................................8   Overall general industry results.....................................................................................................8   Overall specific claims variables....................................................................................................9   Stage two........................................................................................................................................11   Better and worse performing large open cut operations...............................................................11   Better and worse performing small open cut operations..............................................................13   Better and worse performing large underground operations........................................................14   Better and worse performing small underground operations........................................................16   Discussion..........................................................................................................................................17    Appendix.............................................................................................................................................20   Financial Statements...................................................................................................................20   Workers’ compensation findings..................................................................................................21   The author would like to acknowledge the assistance provided by Coal Services Australia in particular Ken Cram and Sharon Buckley and the workers compensation data managers. In addition the author wishes to extend much gratitude to the eight mines that were willing to be involved in the study and take the time to open their operations for this research analysis. The hospitality and assistance provided was exceptional by all involved  .    EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The study aimed to provide coal mining operations in NSW feedback on effective and ineffective riskreduction strategies employed to manage sprain and strain injuries within the industry. The idea wasthat with this information operators could better resource strategies which have proven to be effectivein reducing sprain and strain risk.The study involved the initial analysis of sprain and strain workers compensation statistics for all coalmines in NSW from 1996-2001. This analysis identified overall claim number, costs and durations,injury mechanisms, agencies, time of occurrence, job task, injured part, mine location as well asproduction and employment data. Over this period the industry was found to experience an increase inproduction rates, a decrease in employee numbers and sprain and strain injury claims. The industryoverall produced 526 million tonnes of saleable coal by an average employee number of 11 600. Thetotal claims cost during this period was approximately $140 million which equated to a direct cost of $270 000 for each million tonne of saleable coal and an indirect cost of $918 000. Overall the open cutsector produced more coal by less employees and experienced less sprain and strain injury claims.The proportion of sprain and strain injuries against all injuries occurring in the coal industry hasremained the same over the period form 1996-2001.Mines were further analysed with 8 mines identified as the best and worst performers for sprain andstrain workers compensation statistics for both size and sector. Eight mines were then visited thatwere classified according to better or worse performance. Each mine was provided with their claimsresults over the five year period and these were discussed with reference to general reasons for findings and any adopted risk reduction programs applied. Incident investigation data was thenreviewed to assess the risk reduction strategies applied and whether they worked or not. Aninspection was then taken of the mine site to assess how well risk reduction strategies were beingadopted.The study found little variation in strategies adopted by better and worse performers in each size andsector category. The main difference found was the variation in injury management approach andespecially, in relation to large operations, the age of the workforce. It would appear that much time andeffort has gone into the injury management process without implementation of effective strategies toprevent future similar injury. It was thought that many of the issues identified as causing these types of injuries related to the design of the equipment that was being used and the environment that it wasbeing used in. As such it would appear that industry will need to work more closely with equipmentmanufacturers to ensure that the equipment is better designed for the expected environment,workload and users. Mine operations will need to work more closely in the management of environmental conditions such as road maintenance to ensure that these pose minimal risk to thoseinteracting with equipment in this environment.Mine operators will need to more closely examine their sprain and strain injury risk trends and thestrategies used to manage these risks. Where strategies are planned their implementation should bemonitored and reviewed for effectiveness. Where engineering controls have been applied and this riskhas still not been effectively reduced, for example with vehicle vibration, then any procedural riskcontrol options such as plant rotation, must be enforced through monitoring (that rotation takes placeand quantitative recording of vibration exposure) and review. Whilst passive behavioural changeprograms and toolbox talks play an important role in focusing personnel on risk present, the limitationsof these risk reduction mechanisms should be recognised.There is perhaps no doubt that safety has always been an issue in NSW coal mines. Over the pastdecade the coal mine industry has put significant effort into improving the management of injuries tolimit their cost liability to operations. This change has come at a time where the industry is employingequipment with greater capacity which has contributed to a decrease in employee numbers. This isalso occurred when the employees that are within the industry are aging and as such are particularlysusceptible to sprain and strain risks after years of continued exposure to agencies causing these  injuries. It would seem an opportune time for the industry to work together and focus on theengineering changes which can be made by working in conjunction with equipment manufacturers andworking more closely to improve environmental conditions on site.
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