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Reducing Materials Handling Injuries In Underground Mines
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    Back injuries from handling materials in underground mines continue to be a major safety problem. In spite of the ingenuity of many people and the development of numerous mechanized aids, the number of materials-handling injuries remains second only to the number of roof fall injuries in underground coalmines. Relocation and repositioning of electrical cable, conveyor belt parts, and roof bolt sup-plies in particular are the sources of significant numbers of back injuries. To help reduce such injuries, researchers at the Spokane Research Laboratory of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health are examining Mine Safety and Health Administration accident data to determine correlations between materials-handling tasks and the number of back injuries. Also being investigated are new technologies used in underground mines in the United States. Equipment is being developed or modified that would replace the necessity of doing lifting tasks manually. A Coleman manipulator was tested, and modifications were made to make it more suitable for underground mine use. To reduce or eliminate the need to manually clean off materials that commonly plug grizzly openings, a track-guided pincher arm device was developed. Oversized rock can be broken with the pincher arms in the up position, and the arms can be lowered to grab and remove debris. The arm can also be used in a sweeping action to remove cohesive fines that may bridge grizzly openings.

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