NIOSH Developing Back Injury Assessment Tool for Mining

NIOSH published a Federal Register notice June 13 saying it will develop a low back exposure assessment tool for mining. Few details were included about the tool or when it will be ready, but NIOSH did explain why it is needed.

"Mining has one of the highest incidence rates for back pain of any industry, and back injuries are consistently the leading cause of lost work days in the industry," the agency noted. "The objective of this project is to develop a self-administered, paper and pencil risk assessment tool for the development of low back disorders specifically directed towards use in the mining industry. Many current methods of assessing the risk of low back disorders do not address stressors that are relatively unique to the mining environment, including the restricted vertical spaces in many coal mines that require workers to adopt stooping or kneeling postures for extended periods of their workday."

NIOSH said the tool "will assess various occupational exposures associated with development of back disorders in the literature (postural demands, lifting, whole body vibration exposure, individual and psychosocial issues), as well as specific mining stressors and will develop a score that will be used to assess the degree of risk for the job and the individual. The tool will be useful in both prioritizing jobs that need interventions to reduce low back disorder risk, and in evaluating the effectiveness of interventions through tool administration before and after the implementation of an intervention. There will be no cost to respondents other than their time."

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