Management of Whole-body Vibration in the Surface Mining Industry

Wolfgang, Rebecca (2014). Management of Whole-body Vibration in the Surface Mining Industry MPhil Thesis, Sustainable Minerals Institute, The University of Queensland. doi:10.14264/uql.2014.291

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Author Wolfgang, Rebecca
Thesis Title Management of Whole-body Vibration in the Surface Mining Industry
School, Centre or Institute Sustainable Minerals Institute
Institution The University of Queensland
DOI 10.14264/uql.2014.291
Publication date 2014
Thesis type MPhil Thesis
Supervisor Robin Burgess-Limerick
Kelly Johnstone
Total pages 79
Language eng
Subjects 1203 Design Practice and Management
1199 Other Medical and Health Sciences
Formatted abstract
Long term exposure to high amplitude whole-body vibration is known to be a cause of back pain. Operators of equipment such as surface mining haul trucks are exposed to whole-body vibration. Although a range of control measures have been recommended, there is little evidence that these control measures are consistently implemented by mine sites. The research presented in this thesis provides information and technology which will assist the surface mining industry to manage exposure of their operators to whole-body vibration. Two research questions are addressed: (i) What are the whole-body vibration exposures to operators of haul trucks at surface coal mines and how do these exposures vary with different road surface conditions, haul truck activity and truck types? and (ii) How accurate are the accelerometer measurements obtained via an iPod Touch for estimating whole-body vibration exposure?

Whole-body vibration measurements were gathered from 34 haul trucks operating under normal conditions at a surface coal mine using commercially available, “gold standard” measurement devices. The health effects were determined in accordance with the methods and Health Guidance Caution Zone criteria provided by ISO 2631-1. Twenty-eight haul truck drivers were exposed to whole-body vibration levels within the Health Guidance Caution Zone and five drivers were exposed to levels above the Health Guidance Caution Zone. Whilst haul truck type did not significantly affect whole-body vibration exposure to operators, the road condition and haul truck activity were associated with whole-body vibration amplitudes.

Whilst accurate vibration measurement devices are commercially available, the cost and complexity of the devices is a barrier to the systematic and regular collection of whole-body vibration data by mine sites. Consumer electronic devices have potential to be used to estimate whole-body vibration. Forty-two pairs of measurements were collected simultaneously from a gold standard accelerometer and a 5th generation iPod touch whilst driving light vehicles on different roadway surfaces. A further fifty-eight pairs of measurements were collected simultaneously from a gold standard accelerometer and a 5th generation iPod touch whilst a range of heavy surface mining equipment was operated at three coal mines. The results suggest that accelerometer data gathered from an iPod Touch are able to be used to measure whole-body vibration amplitude with 95% confidence of +/- 0.09 m/s2 r.m.s. or better, depending on the direction of interest. Errors were lower in the vertical direction (usually the dominant vibration direction) and the limits of agreement were calculated to be +/- 0.063 m/s2 r.m.s.

Whole-body vibration exposure is a hazard to operators of haul trucks and should be systematically managed by mine sites. The cost and complexity of commercially available measurement devices is a barrier to regular collection of whole-body vibration exposure. Such ad hoc measurements are unlikely to provide a reliable indication of the vibration exposures of equipment operators and do not provide the information required to effectively manage whole-body vibration exposures. The development of an iOS application that allows an iPod touch to measure whole-body vibration exposure using the frequency weightings specified by ISO 2631-1 provides a simple and inexpensive whole-body vibration measurement device. This device can enable the collection of the information by mine sites required to manage exposure to this hazard.
Keyword Whole-body vibration
Haul trucks
Surface mining
Consumer electronic devices

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Created: Wed, 20 Aug 2014, 13:55:55 EST by Rebecca Wolfgang on behalf of Scholarly Communication and Digitisation Service