There’s an inherent risk in mining. You’re constantly dealing with heavy machinery, hazardous chemicals, and geological risks hundreds—if not thousands—of metres underground. And with the looming threat of tonnes of rocks potentially collapsing and claiming human lives, it’s not only recommended to strictly abide by mining safety protocol; it’s an absolute must.
That said, ensuring that everyone’s productive and safe underground is a challenge that has to be tackled every time you venture into the rocky depths. However, it can be mitigated by bringing on the right technology and equipment. Here are some of the features you should be aware of to keep miners and locals safe.
1) Light sources
Natural light is absent in the vast expanse of most underground caverns. It can be extremely dangerous to mine in such dark conditions, especially when miners are working with heavy machinery and vulnerable rock formations. LED lighting is essential for miner safety, as it allows miners to see potential hazards before they become a problem. This is why miner lights should be both durable, bright, and efficient, which is why LED is often the go-to choice for miners.
The legal minimum illumination to be used in underground mines in places like the US is set at 5 foot-candles. However, the illumination is set higher at 10 foot-candles for more heavy-duty activities, such as drilling, scaling, and mucking.
Modern-day miners use a variety of different lights, including cap lamps, which are worn on the miner’s hard hat. These are usually powered by lithium batteries and have low power consumption, reducing the risk of battery shortages. There are also LED track lights that can provide lighting in excavated routes and passageways.
2) Hazard signages
While miners have been briefed about risks and mining guidelines long before their shift, hazard signages remind them of the potential risks while they’re on the job. Hazard signs also indicate the presence of dangerous areas, such as bodies of water, unstable rock formations, and areas with high levels of toxic gas.
There are different types of hazard signs that can be found in mining facilities. This can include some of the following:
- Biohazard warning signs
- Forklift traffic signs
- Electrical hazards
- PPE & “Safety Glasses Required” signs
- Restricted area signs
- Exposure risks
- Notice signs
- Electrical hazard signs
These signs communicate dangers immediately and visibly so that miners can be more cautious in these areas. If there are dangers that aren’t well-documented in the area, miners will often create makeshift signages to signal the dangers that lie ahead. Accuracy is vital since different precautionary protocols will be followed depending on the risk involved.
3) Gas detection alarms
Carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide are two of the most common—and dangerous—gases found in mines. Methane is another highly explosive gas found in mines that can be easily ignited, making it a threat to both miners and mining equipment.
These fumes are invisible to the naked eye, so to ensure that miners are aware of the risks of these gases, they need access to reliable gas detectors. These devices are worn by miners or placed in strategic areas of the mine to monitor for any changes in gas levels. If there’s a sudden spike in methane or carbon dioxide, for example, the detectors will sound an alarm, giving miners time to leave the area and avoid any potential explosions.
4) Protective gear
Mining is a profession that exposes you to a variety of risks, from flying debris to toxic fumes. That’s why miners need to have access to proper protective gear while they’re working.
This can include items like hard hats, clothing with reflective stripes, safety glasses, protective clothing, and steel-toe boots. In some cases, miners may also need to wear specially-designed breathing apparatus to protect themselves from harmful airborne particles.
Gloves are another necessity for miners, as they help protect against cuts, scrapes, and burns. Modern glove manufacturers have even developed gloves that are specifically designed for mining applications, with features like breathable fabric and improved puncture resistance to help miners do their job more efficiently.
5) Fall protection apparatus
Falls are one of the most common—and dangerous—risks that miners face on the job. Whether it’s from a ladder giving in or some loose rocks giving way, a fall can result in serious injuries or even death.
That’s why miners need to have access to fall protection gear while they’re working. This can include items like safety harnesses, lanyards, and netting that can help prevent miners from falling in the first place. In some cases, miners may even need to wear specialized helmets that are designed to protect against head injuries in the event of a fall.
Which Mining Equipment is Most Important?
When it comes to mining equipment safety, there are a lot of moving parts to consider. From gas detectors to fall protection tools, all these items are equally important in ensuring that no fatalities occur in the workplace.
That said, keeping your mining equipment in top shape is also crucial in preventing accidents. Make sure to regularly inspect your equipment for any wear and tear, and be sure to replace or throw away worn-out items. You can sell your old mining equipment with Grays or other specialist marketplaces if you want to upgrade your current tools.