Ergonomics Expert Discusses Injuries Caused by Coal Mining Equipment


ergonomics expert witnessThis case involves a man who suffered significant injuries from a roof bolting machine at a coalmine. As part of his job, he drove to and from the locations where he was to bolt or pin the roof of the underground mine. A canopy was attached over the operator cab of the roof bolter for safety. A handle was attached to the underside of the steel canopy close to the outer edge. As the man was driving the roof bolter, he held onto the handle attached to canopy with his left hand in order to remain inside the operator cab of the roof bolter. While holding on to the handle, a portion of the man’s hand extended past the outer edge of the overhead canopy. As he was backing the roof bolter around a coal pillar, the man’s left hand was severely injured when it came in contact with the corner of the pillar and was trapped between the canopy handle and the coal pillar. As a result his left pinky finger had to be amputated. It is alleged that the defendant negligently designed, assembled, manufactured and sold the roof bolter even though there was a danger for physical harm and injury to the operator.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Do you have experience with the design, assembly and manufacturing of coal mining- roof bolters
  • 2. Do you have knowledge of the safety protocols in place to ensure coal-mining equipment is safe- before it is sold?
  • 3. Do you have knowledge of accidents that can occur if coal-mining equipment is improperly designed/ assembled?

Expert Witness Response E-008467

My research interests include improving safety and productivity in the mining industry through ensuring optimal human-systems integration. I work on the design of underground coal mining equipment and develop Human Factors tools for use by mining equipment manufacturers and purchasers. I am intimately familiar with roof bolters and am probably one of the only people in the world that has studied their ergonomics. Roof bolters are inherently dangerous in many ways, and it is critical that manufacturers take every precaution to prevent injury with the design of effective safety systems.

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