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Occupational Exposures; Injuries, Illnesses, And Hazardous Exposures In The Mining Industry,1986-1995: A Surveillance Report
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  • Description:
    This chapter presents data on occupational exposures from several sources. Data from compliance samples obtained by MSHA inspectors are presented in table 6-1 for coal mine dust and silica dust, and in tables 6-2 through 6-6 for metal fumes. Since these samples were taken for compliance monitoring rather than as part of a survey of the industry, it is difficult to predict how well they indicate actual exposures for all mining operations. In the coal industry, 7.8% of all respirable dust samples during 1986-1995 were above the permissible exposure limit (PEL). Of silica dust samples obtained during the 10-year period, 23.7% were above the PEL in coal, 16% in metal, 10.8% in nonmetal, 9.1% in stone, and 7.6% in sand and gravel. Of metal fume samples, silver samples showed the largest percentage above the PEL-approximately 48% of samples in both metal and nonmetal. Tables 6-7 and 6-8 present data on noise exposures from the MSHA "dual threshold" survey, which was published in the Federal Register [61 Fed. Reg. 66347 (1996)] as part of a proposed rule change for occupational noise exposure in mining. This study examined a group of samples obtained during 1991-1995 and compared the percent of samples that were above two separate specified limits. The first limit was the current noise standard, a time-weighted average of 90 dBA, calculated to include only exposures at 90 dBA and above. The second limit was a time-weighted average of 85 dBA, calculated to include exposures at 80 dBA and above. Tables 6-8 and 6-9 refer to musculoskeletal overload conditions examined in the National Occupational Health Survey of Mining (NOHSM) [NIOSH 1996]. Table 6-8 shows the operational definitions for each condition; table 6-9 shows the percentage of the workforce potentially exposed, by commodity. Across all commodities, a large proportion of workers were exposed to musculoskeletal overloads due to positioning of the neck and back; positioning and motion of the forearms, arms, and shoulders; heavy lifting; and positioning and movement of the lower limbs. The recorded overloads were defined in the survey and did not exceed any NIOSH, MSHA, or OSHA guidelines for musculoskeletal overloads. Further information on this survey appears in appendix A.

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