Ergonomics in Mining: The Chilean Experience

Abstract

OBJECTIVE The objective of this article is to analyze the current state of knowledge regarding ergonomics in Chilean mining. BACKGROUND Information has been gathered during the past 15 years from studies of Chilean miners. METHOD This article is based on a compilation of information of 700 workplaces where physical, mental, environmental, and organizational loads were evaluated with a systemic approach. RESULTS The results of the Chilean experience reveal that it is important to overcome the concept of "static" ergonomics focused on workplaces that may be valid for offices and machine operation but not for a significant number of miners who will be moving around workstations located in systems of different complexity. The consequence of these complex and dynamic work situations is that more than 50% of absenteeism for health reasons is attributed to musculoskeletal disorders, and there are no standard recommendations that universally apply. The results showed that these problems can be tackled by implementing participatory programs. CONCLUSION The main conclusion of the Chilean experience is that there is a need to continue advancing from diagnostic studies to participatory interventions. At the same time, it is imperative that all new investments in plants, small or large, include considerations of relevant ergonomic concepts from the early planning stages. It is also important to increase ergonomic training within companies, including not only the managers who make major decisions but also the workers who are directly affected by the lack of ergonomics. APPLICATION It is expected that this description of the Chilean experience may be useful for other countries where mining is also a source of income and employment.

DOI: 10.1177/0018720812456701

Cite this paper

@article{Apud2012ErgonomicsIM, title={Ergonomics in Mining: The Chilean Experience}, author={El{\'i}as Apud}, journal={Human factors}, year={2012}, volume={54 6}, pages={901-7} }