Heavy Equipment and Low Back Concerns
Industry or Company
Equipment operators reported low back concerns with mining equipment. Assessment determined that vibration levels exceeded health caution zone limits. A strategy of road and tire maintenance, stretch breaks, and equipment set-up reduced overall reported concerns.
Equipment operators were reporting low back concerns related to the operation of 776D tractor-trailer units on a prairie mine site in Alberta. The equipment had been brought in six months prior to the assessment request and operators were concerned that the tractor-trailer units were exposing them to high levels of vibration over the 12-hour shift.
The assessment was divided into two components, subjective and objective measurements. Subjective measurements included the administration of a health and perception survey to all operators. Interviews were conducted with front-line operators, maintenance, and supervision to further explore the concern. Finally, objective measurements included physical vibration testing of the equipment against ISO standards and observation of the key aspects of the tasks.
It was determined with the key stakeholders that the primary factors affecting overall exposure included: low tire pressures, road conditions, maintenance of equipment, and proper setup.
Regular monitoring of road conditions, operating speeds, and tire pressures had a significant impact on overall vibration levels. Additional recommendations implemented: proper seat adjustment and regular postural change throughout the shift.
Regular review of equipment and discussions with employees were held to ensure interventions were effective.