S.V. Khokhlov, associate professor, Ph.D., master of sport of the USSR
G.V. Rudenko, associate professor, Ph.D.
National Mineral Resources University (Mining University), St. Petersburg
Key words: coal mining, mining industry, health, physical fitness.
Man's staying underground in a coal mine causes significant psychophysical changes in his health and needs miner's professionally important physical and mental qualities to be developed and improved, that contribute to health preservation and improvement of working safety and efficiency.
These tasks are assumed to be solved in two directions:
- on the one hand, formation of due psychological characteristics and physical qualities of a future specialist, starting from the first year of studies in the mining university, vocational school or technical college, particularly enhancement of the system of body's functional reserves for an adequate reaction, actions in extreme conditions and staying healthy at work,
- on the other hand, constant creation of protective gear in view of continuous modernization of the industry is required along with preservation or enhancement of miner’s functional capabilities.
It is known that a disease is easier and cheaper to prevent than to cure. Almost all specialists, whose work is associated with risks, high requirements to physical and psychological conditions (law enforcement officers, Emergency Ministry officials, military people), have a huge positive experience in having to consistently maintain a proper level of physical and psychological health by means of physical culture.
In our opinion, the means of physical culture in the prevention of occupational diseases, maintaining the necessary level of physical and mental conditions as well as miners’ leading a healthy lifestyle are not getting adequate attention when implementing the policy of health protection and medical support at hazardous manufacturing facilities at the enterprises of mining industry.
A program named "Health" has been put together at the Siberian coal energy company (OJSC SUEK) for the workers of the coal industry for 2011-2013. The program covers a number of issues affecting the key performance indicators of OJSC SUEK and it offers specific solutions. This accounts for the cases of disability and injuries, medical group formation for regular check-ups, reorganization of health units, introduction of the practice of evidence-based medicine with the use of attributive risk calculations and other activities associated exclusively with medicine. The increase in production efficiency during the implementation of this program is evident, however, we have not found even a mention of elements of physical culture being implemented into SUEK workers’ schedule in the materials of the program consisting of 38 pages of text, tables and figures .
Professional activity in the mining industry is associated with complicated production conditions and it sets very high demands for workers’ health and physical fitness. The latest technical achievements certainly facilitate miners’ work in many ways, but it is still rather difficult and dangerous for their health. This situation requires some serious work to be done on the assessment of the negative impact risk of various factors on the health of mining industry workers.
According to the studies conducted in the structure of occupational diseases of mining industry workers, diseases of the musculoskeletal system and locomotor system hold the first place, the second one belongs to sensorineural hearing loss, the third one - to vibration disease; the share of pneumoconiosis is 7% .
The degree of professional conditionality of the respiratory and nervous systems disease incidences
is determined by the effect of particulate matter and toxic substances. Profession-related morbidity is determined by: the diseases of the nervous system - noise exposure, exposure to general and local vibrations; the diseases of the circulatory system - noise exposure; the diseases of musculoskeletal system - exposure to general and local vibrations .
The distribution of patients by age shows that most patients belong to the middle age group of 40-49 years, i.e. they are in their relatively "young" working years. The greatest increment in cases was observed in workers with 20+ years of experience .
At the same time, the decrease of physical fitness level is observed, being followed by an increase in the number of overweight employees in the mining industry, as well as in other professional areas. This situation contributes to the low level of physical activity and incorrectly organized workers’ diet.
An insufficient level of physical fitness is one of the leading factors contributing to the growth of industrial injuries. In this regard, there is a significant potential to solving the problem of mining workers’ health protection by means of introducing physical exercises into their activities of everyday life.
Studies demonstrate that the level of miners’ physical fitness does not correlate with their professional experience. It was established that workers who face considerable physical efforts did not always have a high level of development of functional status and motor abilities. At the same time miners are confident in their health and do not regard their physical fitness level as low though it does not ensure their safety when performing work associated with injury risks. Thus, performing heavy physical work itself is not sufficient to maintain the required physical fitness level .
Deterioration of mountain-geological conditions in the mining field development using the underground method, structural and functional complexity of technical systems, intensification of production processes of coal mining as well as increased energy and information intensity of work are leading to a growing number of situations, which set higher requirements for physical and technical skills of the employees of the coal industry.
The development level of some physical and mental qualities of professional importance does not even comply with working conditions of all workers of the industry, and the natural process of adaptation is not going in the optimal way. According to the data analysis on injuries in the mines of the country in 2006-2010, 70 % of accidents occur for the reasons that have to do with the personality of executors . Moreover, the rate of decline of the number of injuries caused by this factor is significantly lower than the rate of the number of injuries caused by technical reasons. Traumatic situations often occur because of inadequate actions being performed by workers due to the low level of physical and mental qualities development which define professional excellence. A close correlation between the frequency of injury and the development level of these qualities has been revealed. However, physiological reasons of inadequate workers’ actions, whose insufficient development level had given rise to hazardous situations, were not mentioned in mining accidents investigation acts for recent years.
Clearly, the problem can be solved by designing a program of applied professional physical training of miners, with due attention to be paid to developing qualities contributing to injuries reduction for personal reasons.
In the Mining University technologies of prevention of the most common industrial diseases of miners have been developed and applied for over 20 years, along with the methodology for estimation of risk appetite, assessment of body's functional reserves and formation of professionally important physical and mental qualities for a miner using physical culture. Their implementation would make much more effective the stipulated above program "Health" of SCEC and other similar programs for the coal industry.
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