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Irregular schedules linked to increase in miner injuries

Miners in Connecticut have many inherent hazards associated with their chosen profession. According to a University of Illinois at Chicago study, irregular schedules could also increase the risk of sustaining injuries for miners. Researchers discovered that hurt miners who worked shifts lasting for nine hours or more tended to have either irregular work schedules or fewer than two years of on-the-job experience.

Fatigue, fewer breaks and psycho-motor impairments are among the factors believed to be related to increased injury risks associated with working longer hours. Researchers also found that miners working more than one shift or longer hours were more likely to sustain fatal injuries or be involved in workplace incidents involving two or more employees. Previous research on mine-related work and injury risk was inconclusive.

The study's lead author notes that miners typically put in 47-48 work weeks with multiple shifts averaging 10-12 hours. This is significantly above the U.S. average for work-related shifts, which is 38 hours per week. The data for the study was based on a review of more than 30 years of Part 50 reports. These are government reports that must be filed when on-the-job injuries occur. More than 52,000 of the 500,000-plus reports filed during the period reviewed involved employees working nine-plus hour shifts. There was a three-fold increase in injuries within this group of workers for the same period for long-shift miners.

Researchers are urging employers in the mining industry to use this study's results as an incentive to consider fixed shifts and other actions that could reduce worker fatigue and other injury risk factors. A lawyer may also consider an injured miner's hours and their frequency of breaks if they are having issues securing appropriate workers' comp benefits for sustained injuries. It's often compelling evidence that increases the odds of winning a denied claim on appeal.

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