Factors Affecting the Mechanical Efficiency of Men Shovelling Rock in Stopes

Wyndham, C. H. ; Morrison, J. F. ; Strydom, N. B.
Organization: The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 7
Publication Date: Unavailable
INTRODUCTION The shovelling of rock in stopes is still a basic and important operation in many gold mines in the removal of gold-bearing rock from the stopes. There is, however, little factual knowledge of the factors which influence the the rates of energy expenditure and work output, and of the way in which variations in these factors, individually or in combination, affect the mechanical efficiency of the mine workers. What for example is the influence of different rates of shovelling, shovel loads and distances of throw? How does stope width and dip of the stope affect the mechanical efficiency of men shovelling rock? Recently a simple physiological test was introduced into the gold mining industry for classifying Bantu recruits into those capable of hard, moderate and light work. If this test is used to select only those Bantu mine workers who are capable of hard work for the task of shovelling rock in stopes then the rate of energy expenditure which could be expected from these men is 1.5 litres/min for the entire period of the shift. With an adequate knowledge of the influence of the various factors which affect the rate of energy expenditure of men shovelling rock in stopes it would be possible to set work standards for Bantu mine workers in stopes. This should be done in terms of the rate of shovelling, the shovel load and the distance of throw for any combination of width of stope, dip of stope, condition of foot wall and grade of rock in such a way that the resultant energy expenditure would be the 'optimum' that could be expected from the men but would be within their capacities for physical work of an endurance nature (that is, 1. 5 litres/min from the 'average' Bantu mine worker). Work standards could thereby be determined for the different stopes of a mine on a sound and systematic basis. In order to supply the information required a study was carried out by the Human Sciences Laboratory in which the work output and energy expenditures (in terms of oxygen consumption in litres/min) were measured on six highly trained Bantu mine workers under the following conditions: (a) rates of shovelling of 3, 4, 5, 6, and 10 shovels per minute. (b) loads of from 9 to 18 lb on the shovel. (c) distances of throw from 8 to 20 ft. (d) stope width of 28 in., 42 in. and 72 in. (e) dip of stopes of 0°, 15° and 30°. (f) rough and smooth footwalls and various grades of rock size. This paper gives the main results of practical importance of this study. Method The experiments were designed and conducted in conjunction with the Work Study Department of one certain underground conditions such as variable stope widths, stope angle, etc., were made available in a mine Surface Training School and suitable subjects were selected from the large number of labourers being put through the training school. Subjects Bantu recruits who had returned to the mine for a new contract and who had previous underground experience on shovelling were considered to be suitable as subjects for the experiments. The particulars of the subjects are given in Table I. TABLE I PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF SUBJECTS Weight Height Surface area Max O2 capacity Subject (Kg) (cm) (sq meters) (Litre/minute) A 71.5 167.3 1.80 3.5 B 61.5 162.3 1.65 2.8 C 63.0 164.1 1.69 2.4 D 66.5 167.4 1.75 2.8 E 70.2 164.6 1.77 3.0 F 77.8 173.1 1.92 3.8 Training The method of shovelling, accepted by the Work Study Department, was demonstrated to the subjects who then practised the movements with empty shovels, under the supervision of an instructor. After the technique was mastered, the men started shovelling rock and were trained for at least four hours per day to work at the higher shovelling rates. Training was continued for three weeks to enable the subjects to achieve a reasonable degree of physical training and conditioning. Shovelling method In both the kneeling and standing positions the subjects faced the pile of rock, grasped the shovel in the accepted manner and pushed the blade of the shovel into the base of the pile of rock, sliding the blade between the rock and the concrete floor. In the standing position (72 in. wide stope) the back leg assisted in the movement by pushing the knee against the back of the hand holding the shovel handle. In the kneeling position the elbow was tucked into the side of the body so that the muscles of
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