“Work Safe.” While an important statement, it is one heard so often that its impact can get lost in the repetition. The gravity of the reminder, and how crucial working safe is to every worker and their peers, can become more hollow over time in even the most receptive ear. That is in part why the idea of the safety initiative was born; safety through behavioral changes, self- and peer-reporting and even award programs and incentivizing safety carries much more weight and action behind it than just telling someone to make sure their work day is safe.

Putting that responsibility of increased safety in the hands of those on the front lines has been a goal for a team of researchers at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), which recently released the newest way for any mine to identify and record ergonomic deficiencies in the workplace and mitigate risks for everyone: the ErgoMine app.

ErgoMine, an audit tool available for Android that the research group released in April of this year, was designed specifically for mining and, in addition to collecting data on how future health and safety-related problems can be avoided, it can help mines to conduct audits before and after changes are made to its processes to see the true impact in real-time.

While the word audit has a connotation of complexity, the app basically works by asking the user questions about their task, how it is being done, and the conditions in which they are working. Once the input is received, ErgoMine can then produce recommendations for improvement and a report can be forwarded as needed for review. The app’s user-friendly modules include bagging and maintenance/repair as well as a dedicated segment for haul truck operations.

Operations can access existing audits anytime via the ErgoMine app.

A Comprehensive Look at Hauling

From training and policy, the haul road design itself and the mine pit, to inspections, ingress/egress, driving habits, cab design, and loading/dumping, ErgoMine’s eight-module Haul Truck Audit segment includes nearly every aspect of the machine and its environment. Each section contains anywhere from a few to more than a dozen questions to help the application’s algorithms process the specific situation. Some questions include:

  • What topics are covered in your mine’s haul truck driver task training?
  • Are speed limits posted on the dash of the haul truck?
  • Have employees reported the presence of excessive dust clouds that reduce driver visibility on haul roads?
  • Are road grades greater than 10% present?
  • Is there a standard form to document the preshift inspection of the haul truck?
  • Are you, as the driver, provided with adequate time to perform a comprehensive preshift inspection?

Some questions may require just one’s physical inspection or best memory, while others may require additional tools such as a tape measure to record distances. After completing the questionnaire, the user may receive a response similar to this example:

The audit action menu provides a number of options for the user.
The audit action menu provides a number of options for the user.

“You indicated that road grades are not designed to accommodate the equipment with the least braking capability or you do not know how the