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Study looks at factors that increase the risk of mining injuries

It probably seems obvious that people are at increased risk of injury on the job when they work for long hours with few or no breaks. Fatigue and the impairment of certain motor skills are just two factors that contribute to injury risk after hours on the job. However, a recently published study from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) sheds a little more light on the conditions that often accompany long shifts -- specifically for miners.

Researchers studied over 545,000 Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) injury reports from 1983 through 2015. They found that 9.6% of the injuries were suffered by miners who had been working a shift of at least nine hours.

The UIC researchers discovered that the injured miners working these long shifts were more likely to have been on the job for under two years or were contract or temporary workers. They often had irregular schedules -- beginning work at different times of the day from one week to the next.

Not only did workers on long shifts have a greater chance of injury, but the likelihood of a fatal injury increased by 32% with a shift of over nine hours. The risk of more than one miner being injured in an incident was a whopping 73% higher.

While safety regulations and processes have improved for miners in recent decades, another disturbing finding was that the injury rate among miners working longer shifts rose threefold during the period studied. The study's lead author, a public health professor, says, "Our findings are alarming given the shift towards hiring more contract workers and the adoption of more extended-hour workdays in the mining industry."

The professor says that this study, which was published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine, "should serve policy makers and industry leaders who need to consider the effects of longer shifts on things like fatigue and nutrition, and the potential of fixed schedules to alleviate some of the risks with longer shifts."

Mine injuries can be extremely serious and even career-ending. It's essential to get the workers' compensation benefits that you and your family need. An experienced attorney can help you deal with the red tape and advocate for your rights.

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