8 Tips For A Safe Underground Mining Activity

Underground mining is a risky business that requires special preparation and safety measures due to harsh underground conditions unfit for humans. These include harsh temperatures, poor air quality, and impacts. For instance, in the early 20th century, the USA suffered up to 1000 fatalities from mining activities each year. Luckily, this figure has decreased in recent years, with the 1990s recording less than 100 deaths per year.

Improved technology and increased safety rules have significantly impacted mining safety and have made mining a less dangerous activity. In 2017 the US Department of Labor recorded 28 fatalities —15 in coal mines and 13 in metal/non-metal operations. However, Mining Technology is working hard to reduce this number further by supplying mining safety equipment such as underground mining chamber to enhance safety in mining operations.

Read along to learn further tips to increase safety in your mining operations.

As mentioned, underground operations are risky. Therefore, you should put in place thorough plans before starting the work. Proper planning and the right approach help the operations run smoothly and protect the whole crew from accidents. Also, assessing the environment helps identify the rock characteristics, stresses, and possible outcomes that can reduce the chances of accidents.

Miners underground at a copper mine in NSW, Australia

Assessing and surveying the mining areas is easier with mining technology. A suitable device can collect relevant data that will help predict the results of your proposed plans. For instance, a specific device can help measure airflow in particular areas. Airflow is essential in mining operations for the survival of the miners.

All labor-intensive jobs need specific protective gear, and mining isn’t exempted. Safety gear protects miners from extreme temperature, impacts, or harmful chemicals. These protective gears are; gloves, protective boots, eyeglasses, helmets, protective hearing devices (earplugs, muffs), respirators, and full bodysuits.

Miners should have personal protective gear at all times. There are many instances where helmets save miners. This shows how vital helmets are as rockfall is a common cause of severe injuries.

Unchecked old equipment or worn-out breaks can cause accidents, but regular check-ups and repairs keep your equipment in optimal shape. For instance, washing and lubricating tools with dirt and grime are essential to avoid compromising the systems. Also, drill rigs, excavators, ventilation devices, and rock dusters need regular upkeep to function correctly and increase their life while reducing the danger to miners.

All members in the mining operation should regularly undergo safety training. This applies to both old and new members. Safety training sessions usually provide theoretical and practical lessons essential for preventing accidents. The miners are also taught how to wear and use personal protective gear. Members with risky roles should undergo health and fitness check-ups to determine their physical capabilities for the work.

A clear view of your working space can minimize accidents, regardless of where you’re working from. A dark and unclear view of your working area increases the risk of accidents due to low visibility. When working underground, ensure you have personal lighting tools and stationary lamps that withstand harsh conditions. This provides constant lighting, thus eliminating unexpected blackouts. Enough visibility prevents vehicle crashes and other unnecessary accidents.

There should be a clear view of the surroundings for controlled blasting procedures to avoid blasting your workmates or exposing them to harmful gasses. Thus, a clear view of the rest of the workforce is crucial in mining operations.

Controlled explosions and mining machinery cause loud sounds and vibrations that can cause miners’ hearing deterioration. Milliseconds blasting can help delay explosions slightly to reduce the intensity of the sound and vibration. Strategic drilling can also ease the tremors. Soundproof materials like blast mats can take noise down by absorbing the force from mining activities and help contain strong gas emissions.

Many gasses are emitted into mines, some of which are harmful and poisonous when inhaled. Also, high concentrations of some gasses can collect and cause explosions. Gas detection devices can be used to discover any gas formed. Effective ventilation systems can drive the gas out and increase airflow in the mining area. Enough airflow helps dilute the gas proportionally so that the air can be breathed without defects. 

It’s essential to invest in wireless communication that helps exchange information and progress of the mining activities. Effective communication is crucial in case of an accident, where you can locate colleagues with ease. Also, signs can visually convey safe and dangerous zones.

The Bottom Line

Underground mining is a risky operation that requires the necessary steps and precautions. Luckily, the above tips can help miners carry out their operations safely and reduce the chances of accidents.

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