Physiological strain in the Hungarian mining industry: The impact of physical and psychological factors
József Varga 1
Imre Nagy 2
More details
Hide details
Fizioergo Scientific Research Ltd., Budapest, Hungary
National Labour Office, Budapest, Hungary (Directorate of Labour and Occupational Safety, Division of Work Hygiene and Occupational Health)
Metal-Carbon Ltd., Budapest, Hungary
University Medical School, Pécs, Hungary (Department of Pathophysiology)
Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute, Torrance, CA, USA (Rehabilitation Clinical Trials Center)
János Pórszász   

Rehabilitation Clinical Trials Center, Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, 1124 W Carson St., Torrance CA 90502, USA
Int J Occup Med Environ Health 2016;29(4):597–611
Objectives: The objectives of these investigations completed on workplaces in the Hungarian mining industry were to characterize the physiological strain of workers by means of work pulse and to examine the effects of work-related psychological factors. Material and Methods: Continuous heart rate (HR) recording was completed on 71 miners over a total of 794 shifts between 1987 and 1992 in mining plants of the Hungarian mining industry using a 6-channel recorder – Bioport (ZAK, Germany). The work processes were simultaneously documented by video recording along with drawing up the traditional ergonomic workday schedule. All workers passed health evaluation for fitness for work. The effects of different psychological factors (simulated danger, “instrument stress,” presence of managers, and effect of prior involvement in accidents as well as different mining technologies and work place illumination) on the work pulse were evaluated. The statistical analysis was completed using SPSS software (version 13.0, SPSS Inc., USA). Results: The work-related physiological strain differed between work places with different mining technologies in groups of 12–18 workers. The work pulse was lowest in bauxite mining (ΔHR = 22±8.9 bpm) and highest in drift drilling in dead rock with electric drilling machine (ΔHR = 30±6.9 bpm). During sham alarm situation the work pulse was significantly higher than during normal activities with the same physical task (ΔHR = 36.7±4.8 bpm vs. 25.8±1.6 bpm, p < 0.001). When work was performed under different psychological stress, the work pulse was consistently higher, while improving the work place illumination decreased the physiological strain appreciably (ΔHR (median, 25–75 percentiles) = 23, 20–26 bmp vs. 28, 25–31.3 bpm, p < 0.001). Conclusions: Recording the heart rate during whole-shift work along with the work conditions gives reliable results and helps isolating factors that contribute to increased strain. The results can be used to implement preventive and health promotion measures.