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Physical capacity of rescue personnel in the mining industry

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Author(s): Stewart Ian | McDonald Michael | Hunt Andrew | Parker Tony

Journal: Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology
ISSN 1745-6673

Volume: 3;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 22;
Date: 2008;
Original page

ABSTRACT
Abstract Background The mining industry has one of the highest occupational rates of serious injury and fatality. Mine staff involved with rescue operations are often required to respond to physically challenging situations. This paper describes the physical attributes of mining rescue personnel. Methods 91 rescue personnel (34 ± 8.6 yrs, 1.79 ± 0.07 m, 90 ± 15.0 kg) participating in the Queensland Mines Rescue Challenge completed a series of health-related and rescue-related fitness tasks. Health-related tasks comprised measurements of aerobic capacity (VO2max), abdominal endurance, abdominal strength, flexibility, lower back strength, leg strength, elbow flexion strength, shoulder strength, lower back endurance, and leg endurance. Rescue-related tasks comprised an incremental carry (IC), coal shovel (CS), and a hose drag (HD), completed in this order. Results Cardiovascular (VO2max) and muscular endurance was average or below average compared with the general population. Isometric strength did not decline with age. The rescue-related tasks were all extremely demanding with heart rate responses averaging greater than 88% of age predicted maximal heart rates. Heart rate recovery responses were more discriminating than heart rates recorded during the tasks, indicating the hose drag as the most physically demanding of the tasks. Conclusion Relying on actual rescues or mining related work to provide adequate training is generally insufficient to maintain, let alone increase, physical fitness. It is therefore recommended that standards of required physical fitness be developed and mines rescue personnel undergo regularly training (and assessment) in order to maintain these standards.
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