Production output in the mining industry is predicated on the smooth functioning of machines, processes and people. Back-to-back shifts are needed to realise full production potential – but it only takes one incident to jeopardise the entire system.

According to Ansell, in 2009 a leading national safety organisation released the results of a study into work-related injuries in Australia. The report specifically outlined the incidences and frequencies of work-related injury among shift workers compared with non-shift workers.

It revealed that shift workers are more likely to be injured, and are more likely to be injured more often. The study found that workers are more susceptible to injury within the first six months of employment. The most high-risk group appears to be those working 30 hours or less per week.

The report suggests that this is not related to a lack of occupational health and safety (OHS) training, which, says Ansell, makes the selection and utilisation of suitable personal protective equipment (PPE) all the more important.

The company claims that hand and wrist injuries represent around a third of all work-related incidents requiring medical intervention in Australia, and that there is significant opportunity for improvement when it comes to implementing policy and processes that will minimise the risks in the mining industry globally.

“While price is always an important factor in PPE purchases, so, too, are quality and suitability for the task. Rather than utilising a glove made of leather, hand protection that has been designed specifically to meet stringent international standards always represents a better option,” says Ansell.

“The nature of the task may largely determine the most appropriate selection, but it should never be at the expense of comfort and dexterity, particularly where precision handling is required.

“The advent of cut-protection yarn technology provides the perfect balance between safety and comfort. Users can choose from a range of alternatives that deliver degrees of protection tailored to specific working environments and the conditions they present.

“Workers are often susceptible to hand fatigue or repetitive motion injuries and subsequent musculoskeletal disorders, so a solution that delivers stress-release functionality offers superior protection. Engineered yarn blends various fibres such as stainless steel, glass and nylon in a process that provides high cut protection with exceptional comfort and dexterity.”

The company also suggests that fabrics, coating and knitting technology have all improved significantly in recent years, meaning that the optimum solution for each task is now within reach for those charged with ensuring worker safety.

“In an industry sector (such as mining) that operates around the clock, a degree of downtime due to injury may be inevitable. If it can be minimised through the selection of appropriate PPE, it’s hard to understand why safety managers would opt for anything less,” the company concludes.

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