Roseanne Baxter – Occupational Therapist, Encompass Therapy
Holly Whitelaw – Data Collection Officer, Glencore Coal Assets Australia
Dozer operation at surface mining operations has traditionally been considered one of the higher risk tasks undertaken in the surface coal mining industry due to exposure to significant levels of whole-body vibration. As per Australian Standard AS2760.1, SafeWork Australia promotes the practice of regular monitoring of whole-body vibration levels and encourages employers to minimise workers’ exposure levels to below levels associated with increased risk of health affects. Although not legally binding, these limits are considered benchmarks in industry monitoring reports.
Recent published Australian research has shown a large spread of exposure levels, some of which exceeded recognised limits for likely health effects. A research project has been undertaken to gather whole-body vibration data matched to video and operator survey to investigate which tasks and in what ground conditions are dozer operators at a surface mining operation exposed to the higher levels of whole-body vibration. This provides rationale for prioritisation of allocation of controls targeted at the tasks and/or ground conditions associated with higher wholebody vibration readings.
Discussion regarding the range of data analysis methods currently referred to in research and industry reporting is advocated to improve consistency of reporting and understanding of results.