The CSIR recently published this article:
Workplace-related stress: Physiological and psychological effects of work stress
Workplace stress can be defined as the harmful physical and emotional responses that occur when the psychological and/or physiological requirements of the job do not match the capabilities or needs of the worker.
To create a safe and healthy work environment, it is first of all necessary to determine what is actually happening in the work environment: what levels of stress (physiological as well as psychological) are miners experiencing while performing their tasks.
The link between occupational stress and work-related injuries remains under-researched. However, it appears that there are two major ways in which occupational stress affects health and safety:
- Direct effects on workers’ behaviour, and
- Indirect effects mediated by worker health, worker well-being, and worker attitudes to their job and to health and safety matters.
Physical strain and psychological stress play important roles in an individual’s safety behaviour and ability to work without harming his/her health.
The existing project has begun to investigate the phenomenon of workplace stress in the South African mining industry, focusing on physiological strain and psychological stress. The investigation has highlighted the complexity of the factors that influence workplace stress and a conceptual framework for evaluating workplace stress in the mining industry has been developed. This will form the basis for further investigations that will provide techniques to validly measure workplace stress in the specific context of South African mining and that will ultimately contribute to the development of prevention strategies for the industry to reduce accidents and injuries and improve worker wellness.
- The current difficulties experienced with the placement of female miners to underground occupations highlight the need for a project to assess the physiological strain associated with mining occupations. Information on the physiological strain experienced by workers underground will assist mines in the formulation of job placement policies (including physical selection criteria) that are scientifically based and without bias. It would assist the industry in accommodating its diverse workforce (male and female miners).
- Successful completion of the project will provide the mining industry with both objective and subjective tools to measure workspace stress.
- Based on the resultant evaluations of the workplace stress-associated risks of the mining industry, recommendations for preventative measures could be made to reduce accidents/injuries and improve worker wellness.
2.Human factors analysis and classification system for the South African mining industry
Historically, mining has been viewed as an inherently high-risk industry. Nevertheless, the introduction of new technology and a heightened concern for safety has yielded marked reductions in accident and injury rates over the past decades. Human error is associated with 60 to 80% of all accidents, injuries, and quality defects across a variety of industries including aviation, healthcare, mining and manufacturing.
Managing human error is therefore fundamental to maintain the viability and profitability of any organisation.
The Human Factors Analysis & Classification System (HFACS) is recognised as the ‘Gold Standard’ in human factors accident analysis and classification. The HFACS system has direct application to accident investigation and analysis, risk reduction, safety, and quality and productivity improvement. This project is aimed at developing a modified version of the HFACS to analyse incident and accident cases specifically in the South African mining industry.
- The HFACS framework designed specifically for the SA mining industry could be used to systematically identify underlying human factor causes in mining incidents and accidents. More importantly, these analyses provide for the development of data-driven interventions and will provide mine safety professionals with the information necessary to further reduce mine incidents/accidents.
- In addition, it will also assist mine safety professionals to systematically generate comprehensive intervention strategies that directly target the underlying systemic causes of human errors.
3.Noise-induced hearing loss and silicosis prevention: Compliance audit tools
Despite improvements to mine hearing conservation programmes (HCP), noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) continues to cost industry some R 100 million annually in compensation claims, with even greater impacts on mine productivity/profitability and mineworkers’ quality of life. There are
Following previous work sponsored by the Mine Health and Safety Council to assist the South African mining industry with the prevention of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) and silicosis, the aim of the current project is to further develop simple noise and dust compliance audit tools to be used by the Mine Health and Safety Inspectorate (MHSI) as well as by mine occupational health and occupational hygiene personnel.
- Improved NIHL and silicosis prevention methods implemented in the mining industry.
- Training workshops for the MHSI staff to enable them to support the mining industry.
- NIHL and silicosis prevention compliance audit protocols in user-friendly format that will allow for the identification of trends of the progress made towards the milestones set by the industry. It will facilitate comparisons and monitoring of improvements and success of interventions by mine occupational hygiene officers from all sizes of mines (small, medium and large).
4.Investigating the system requirements for the proactive monitoring and management of occupational health issues in the mining industry
The proactive management of occupational health issues in the South African mining industry is a challenge as a result of the unique environment. For successful management to occur, it is essential that there is a link between personal medical surveillance data and health hazard exposure information. It is also essential that the data are reliable and relevant and that the systems used allow for proactive reporting and feedback to regulators and stakeholders in the industry.
A proactive occupational health system must also facilitate data analysis for periodic epidemiological studies that will allow the industry to track the trends in occupational health issues.
The requirements for a system that effectively combines the abovementioned needs are being investigated to make recommendations to the industry on the future developments of such a system. The current project is aimed at developing such a system and the work is sponsored by the Mine Health and Safety Council.
- A system that will proactively monitor and manage occupational health information to assist the industry in improving the health of miners.
- A practical sustainable system that will assist the mining industry to proactively monitor and manage occupational health issues and that will serve as an indicator of successes of interventions for policy setting and researchers.
5.Putting research into practice
Not all of the Human Factors research group’s research findings submitted to the Mine Health and Safety Council is transferred into the workplaces at mines to prevent injury, illness and fatalities. A perception exists that this research is not relevant: it is not addressing industry needs and is not in a format to facilitate implementation in the workplace.
The objective of the proposed project will be to translate CSIR research findings into highly effective practices to improve health, safety, worker-wellness and productivity at mines and to make the necessary expertise available to assist mines with the implementation of health and safety management systems, such as:
- Fatigue management,
- Ergonomics programmes,
- Heat stress management,
- Optimising hearing conservation practices, and
- The use of otoacoustic emissions in the prevention of noise-induced hearing loss.
- A mining industry assisted to reduce illness and injury by increasing the use of CSIR-generated knowledge and interventions.
6. A review of ergonomics training at mines
Ergonomics is the scientific discipline concerned with the understanding of interactions among humans and other elements of a system, and the profession that applies theory, principles, data and methods to design in order to optimise human well-being and overall system performance.
Based on the results of ergonomics studies done at mines, it is evident that mine workers are not aware of the ergonomics hazard in their environment. This conclusion is based on observations and findings that there is a mismatch between observed ergonomics-related health and safety risks and workers’ perception of these risks associated with their work environment. Mines also have difficulty to implement participatory ergonomics programmes.
- Safer workplaces and healthier workers can be expected when all workers are aware of the risks and of the preventive measures of ergonomic design and use of mining machinery. The outcome of an ergonomics training programme will be a reduction in accidents and injuries.
- If workers are well aware of ergonomics hazards in the work place, it will be easier for them to participate in ergonomics programmes and this will enhance health and safety and increase productivity. Effective training of employees will also contribute to the sustainability of the ergonomics programmes in their workplace.
More health-related projects
Information from the following projects aims to assist the mining industry with ways to take reliable dust samples and obtain accurate information from the analyses. This information will assist mine management to effectively control the exposure of workers to silica containing dust or diesel particulate matter.
7. The effect of sampler (cyclone) performance on XRD response
The CSIR aims to determine how the sampler performance and distribution of dust on respirable filters would affect the concentration of silica obtained from X-ray diffraction (XRD) analysis.
- The information obtained from this study would determine whether the samplers used in the South African mining industry provide consistent and reliable, respirable dust samples. Reliable dust samples are required for mine management to implement effective control measures in the control of exposure to silica containing dust.
8. Different approaches to direct-on-filter analysis of silica using Fourier-Transform Infrared
To determine how different approaches to the direct-on-filter (DoF) analysis of silica using Fourier-Transform Infrared (FTIR) affect results and how these results compare to DoF analysis using XRD.
- The information obtained from this study would provide practical information for laboratories on the analysis of respirable dust samples using FTIR and how these results differ from results obtained using XRD.
- This information would also assist laboratories to provide accurate silica concentration results from FTIR to the mining industry.
9. The evaluation of different sampling techniques for the measurement of diesel particulate matter (DPM)
To evaluate different sampling techniques to determine whether the DPM on the filter is evenly distributed.
- To provide information to industry on which sampling method provides consistent and reliable DPM samples for the accurate reporting of elemental, organic and total carbon concentrations. From this study a more cost-effective sampling method could be determined for the non-coal industries.
10. Historical data on DPM
To establish a DPM database to determine any trends in the historical data of DPM exposure.
To provide the mining industry with information on what the DPM exposure trends were within each commodity. This information will show the industry whether implemented control measures are reducing the DPM exposure of mine workers.
11. Determining a correlation between the tail pipe emissions and DPM exposure
To establish whether there is a correlation between the tail pipe emissions and DPM concentrations.
The information from this study might provide industry with a fast and efficient way to determine whether a diesel engine is given high DPM exposure to mine workers in the area