Mining research identifies rubber-tyred vehicles as health hazard

Mining vehicles to blame for hundreds of injuries.

Rubber-tyred vehicles have emerged as a health hazard for underground coal miners in the New South Wales Hunter Valley, with hundreds of injuries reported over the past decade, stemming from jolts blamed on vibrating vehicles.

The Hunter-based industry group Coal Services compiled a report of injuries sustained by miners travelling in rubber-tyred vehicles in underground mines over a 10-year period to 2014.

More than 300 incidents of injury were reported, ranging from minor sprains and strains through to spinal fractures.

The injuries were caused by whole body vibration.

Nearly half of the injured miners were travelling in dump trucks, with pot holes blamed for 40 per cent of the incidents, causing vehicles to transmit shocks, jolts and jars to the occupants.

Neck injuries were recorded in half of all incidents.

As a result, the report said all mining companies should ensure site risk assessments take into account the potential for whole body vibration on all vehicles operating in their mines.

Hunter mines are being urged to step up protocols to minimise the risk of injuries, stemming from vibrating rubber-tyred vehicles.

Coal Services said companies should set vehicle tyres, suspension, visibility and seat standards before use to try to create a more comfortable workplace, to reduce the risk of injury, and take note of driver and passenger feedback on the "roughness" of their ride.

By Giselle Wakatama

Acknowledgment 1233 ABC Newcastle