Not only is mining a dangerous job, it also leads to more health issues than other jobs involving manual and non-manual labor.
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) researchers found that 27.9% of the miners involved in the study suffered from high blood pressure. That was the highest percentage found among all the workers from a variety of industries who participated in the study.
“Compared with nonmanual workers, miners younger than 55 years reported more high blood pressure,” according to the researchers.
Hearing loss, back pain also prevalent
Hearing loss was also more frequent among miners, with almost 11% reporting moderate-to-deaf hearing loss.
Compared to non-manual workers, miners reported 24% more lower back pain and almost two times more leg pain related to lower back pain. Miners also reported 26% more joint pain during the period studied.
More than 105K workers from multiple industries involved
NIOSH conducted the research to better understand how often illness and injury occur in mining compared to other manual occupations as well as to non-manual occupations. This sort of understanding can lead to better protections for workers.
Researchers used the 2007-2018 National Health Interview Survey to calculate the frequency of health issues among miners and manual workers in other industries. Because there were only a few female survey respondents, the study included 105,409 male participants. The number of participants from each industry included:
- mining (337)
- oil and gas (795)
- construction (12,494)
- manufacturing (13,934)
- transportation and material moving workers (6,426)
- agriculture, forestry, and fishing (2,564), and
- non-manual (68,859).
A statistical method known as weighting was used “so that each industry group represented a larger population of workers in that industry.”
More research needed on hazards that lead to health problems
Based on previous research on chronic pain and opioid misuse along with the high pain prevalence among miners, researchers suggest that mine operators should reduce injury-causing work factors. At the same time, mine operators should be providing “an environment where workers can address pain management and substance use.”