Navigating below surfaces and in large chasms is a unique occupation, and it takes special preparation to mine. Underground and even in open channels, workers run into new problems and a strange environment.
Because the areas feature extremes in temperatures, air quality and impacts, safety is a major consideration for mining operations. Factoring in the range of risks on the job can be difficult, but improving mine safety can be easier with these safety tips.
Through testing and experience, the mining process has been tweaked to add resources and safety. The best practices in mining are less dangerous, more conscientious and more productive than previous procedures. The following 18 tips can increase the safety of your mining facility.
1. Prioritize Planning
Whether in surface or underground projects, it's critical for miners to develop thorough plans before beginning work. Taking time to calculate the best approach can help the process to go more smoothly and protect the well being of the whole crew.
Assessing the environment can inform drilling design and blasting operations. Careful investigation of the rock characteristics, stresses and probable aftermath can decrease the unknowns and improve the sequence of events.
Surveying the area can be easier with mining technology because the right software can display the various outcomes for your proposed plans. Consulting digital models can help you explore a variety of scenarios. You can have more confidence moving forward with well-thought-out steps.
2. Maintain Rigorous Standards
Exercising regular inspection and adherence to mining regulations can set high expectations for workers. You can instill a sense of responsibility and attentiveness on your job site by meticulously enforcing safety rules.
Generating a positive perspective on safety standards can make checklists and protocol a necessity in the eyes of workers rather than an extra step.
Encouraging feedback from workers on areas for improvement can create a better setting. A culture of safety can get everyone behind the endeavor to secure mining practices.
3. Wear Personal Protective Gear
Labor intensive jobs all have specific personal protective gear needs, and mining is no different. Head-to-toe protection can shield miners from impacts, chemicals and extreme temperatures.
Sturdy clothing and accessories like steel-toed footwear are essential to keep workers safe. Hard hats tailored to the nature and purpose of the mining project can protect from severe injuries, as rock fall is a common cause of incidents. Don't forget to put on your equipment before entering hazardous zones.
Adequate fits in personal protective equipment can maximize the defense capabilities of the gear, and defective clothing should be replaced immediately.
4. Pay Attention to Equipment Upkeep
Unchecked, aging parts can go unnoticed, and worn-out valves or brakes can lead to loss of control. Old or defective equipment can open up dangers to a site, but regular cleaning and repair can keep machinery in optimal shape.
Dirt and grime can rapidly build up on tools, slowing them down and compromising their systems. Wash and lubricate equipment to restore them to their former quality.
Excavators, drill rigs, rock dusters and ventilation devices all need regular service to continue functioning correctly. Proper upkeep can increase the life of these tools and heavy machinery, posing less danger to miners.
5. Improve Visibility
From on-site vehicles to underground tasks, a clear view of the surroundings can minimize accidents. Dark pathways and work areas can put you in jeopardy because it's more likely for you to make mistakes with low visibility.
Underground illumination can enhance visual examinations of an area, which is vital for pre- and post-blasting procedures. Ensure personal lighting devices and stationary lamps can withstand all weather conditions. This can offer constant light sources and keep mining crews from unexpected blackouts.
Enough visibility can avert crashes for vehicles, too. Working headlights on machinery and mobile equipment can alert drivers to nearby personnel, preventing perilous collisions.
6. Take Lifting Precautions
Working in confined spaces can require unusual positioning, and awkward stances and motions can cause musculoskeletal injuries. Mining is demanding work, and the strenuous activity can result in uncomfortable stresses.
Lifting is a significant role of miners, but extended wear and tear can make lifting even more difficult. Heaving large amounts of weight and lifting objects can put pressure on the back and neck, hampering workflow.
Underground operations entail overhead tasks and repeated movements, which can bring muscle fatigue, but precautions like assistive devices and correct form can limit strain injuries. It's also wise to ask for assistance from fellow miners to pick up bulky loads.
7. Manage Vibration and Noise Levels
Controlled explosions in quarrying reverberate through the earth and emanate loud sounds, and powerful mining machinery also adds elements of vibration and noise.
Strategic drilling can ease the tremors, especially in techniques where buffer holes are inserted in advance. Millisecond blasting can delay the explosions slightly with a series of holes to reduce the intensity of sound and shaking.
Suppression supports can take the noise down to an appropriate level. Blast mats can absorb the force from the detonation and help contain strong emissions of gas.
8. Account for Harsh Temperatures
The spectrum of temperatures that miners spend time in can impose stresses on the body. Gold, diamond and coal mines can drop to negative temperatures, while deep mines that are closer to the earth's core can rise to exorbitantly hot conditions.
Long work hours in an intense setting can weaken miners, leading to heat exhaustion, dizziness and confusion. Freezing areas can also impact workers with cold-related sicknesses like lack of coordination and inconsistent breathing. These kinds of impairment in crew members could influence the well being of others if they can't carry out their duties.
Hydration, sufficient coverings and periodic breaks from these conditions can lessen the risk of cold or heat stress.
9. Ventilate Harmful Gases
As noxious vapors naturally occur in mines, workers can inhale these and suffer from poisoning. High concentrations of particular gases can collect, and in certain cases, they can combust.
Knowing the signs of gas poisoning can allow you to catch leakage before it hurts anyone. For instance, overexposure to carbon monoxide can cause headache and breathlessness. Gas detection devices bring more dependable monitoring.
Effective ventilation systems can redirect the gases and increase air flow. More air dilutes the gases to an acceptable and breathable proportion for suitable air quality.
10. Shut Down Old Shafts
Shafts that are out of commission yet not closed can eventually cause problems. Mines need maintenance and reinforcement to sustain their structure, and without care, the unused shafts deteriorate.
They can act unpredictably and collapse, affecting adjacent shafts. Gas accumulation can also increase the risk of explosions, and the presence of methane and toxins can replace oxygen.
Securing abandoned shafts can preserve the framework, and a reliable sealing method can block gas from entering the used passages of the mine.
11. Implement Rock Burst Prevention Measures
Environmental changes and humanmade blasts can shift rocks and dislodge large pieces from rock walls. Falling rock can strike workers and induce serious injuries, so it's beneficial to set up protective systems. Fastening anchors and barriers in vulnerable areas can hold back fragments to protect miners.
On the outskirts of a site, ditches and berms can soften the decent of dropping rocks in surface projects. However, bolting, scaling and barring the overhanging rock faces can serve as early deterrence. Attaching steel mesh draping or mats to the sides of the mine could also intercept stray chunks of rock.
12. Stay Aware of Fire Risks
The materials in mines increase the possibility of fire, and if you're mining coal or working in a gas-rich region, this elevates your risk for tragic scenarios.
Because underground shafts and tunnels are tightly enclosed, smoke and flames can quickly become overwhelming. The compact pathways also can provoke the spread of fires, covering ground swifter than workers may notice.
Fire suppression apparatuses can combat the flames, and sensors can alert workers to the danger. Remaining vigilant to fire stimulants and hazardous conditions can ready workers to react to the initial moments of the fire. Wearing fire-resistant protective gear can reduce the extent of burns, too.
13. Watch for Dust Hazards
Loose silica dust or coal particles can travel through the air in denser portions than normal when mining. These specks can disturb the respiratory system, depending on their size and makeup.
Vacuum devices, screens, transfer shoots and wet fan scrubbers can capture the tiny bits and clear the air for workers.
Respiratory protection is also critical because miners are susceptible to lung issues. Respirators and ventilation masks can ward off airborne impurities that miners might confront.
14. Keep Electrical Safety in Mind
Like most other job sites, mines use power tools, lights and other electrical equipment, which need electricity. Sending electricity through these locations and transporting machines litters the space with extension cords and wires.
These cords and electronics in damp mines can raise the risk of electrocution or electric shock, but maintaining electrical safety can protect workers from the hazard. Grounding the system, incorporating resilient cords and insulating the connections can manage the currents.
You can also bundle the cords to prevent tangling and move them out of walkways to avoid tripping.
15. Prepare for the Possibility of Slips and Falls
Miners frequently stumble or fall from high places, and people can travel down several feet onto hard surfaces due to lengthy shafts.
Workers can also slip on liquid, mud or loose rock while walking, but high-traction footwear can give you a better stance on uneven ground. Sizable work boots might affect your gait, but they can keep you upright.
Toppling off ladders is another possibility, and ladder securing equipment could solve it. Underground mining uses fixed ladders, and safety belts and lines can draw workers back if they end up slipping on far-reaching shafts. Surface mining branches out to other types, but toe clearance and strong materials are requirements across the board.
16. Consider the Potential for Cave-Ins
Cave-ins have been a prevalent accident in mining operations for years, and they can be fatal. Weighing the likelihood of collapses in different scenarios can develop awareness in mining crews.
While cave-ins can happen without warning, workers can methodically complete their duties without cutting corners. Compliance with mining regulations and attentiveness can keep workers from getting trapped.
Tracking emerging technology for mining can also amplify safety and strengthen subsurface structures. Devices that can pinpoint liabilities early can help crews deal with the risks right away.
17. Emphasize Communication
Relaying information about the conditions and progress of mining activities is crucial. Lines of communication should be handy so workers can warn others about questionable areas or accidents as soon as possible.
Signs designating hazardous areas can visually convey safe areas, and clear labels can clue workers in on how or when to use their equipment and tools.
Mobile devices are currently used to pass on updates, but the signal for these can be weak or nonexistent underground. On-site communication systems are another technique for transferring messages to miners.
18. Take Advantage of Professional Training and Refreshers
After learning the routine, workers can start to feel comfortable in their roles, but they can also forget vital procedures. Their caution can wane as they settle into the routine. Reminders about the regulations from supervisors and coworkers can create a sense of accountability. Refresher training courses can also help you to go through the process with confidence.
The right procedure for mining can equip miners to handle surprises and variations. Knowledgeable miners can push the industry forward in safety measures.
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Using Blast Mats to Improve Mine Safety
To build up the integrity of a mine, blast mats can fortify the walls in several ways. Made of steel wire rope, these offer durability and coverage to reinforce the framework of mines. The interlocking design of the steel is flexible to accommodate the contours of the mine shafts and cavities.
A key application of blast mats in mining is for obstructing rock falls and bursts. When bolted against the wall, the mesh can stand as a barricade. As passive support, blast mats are available to block plummeting masses. You can fix the blasting mats to the walls without extensively stressing the rock because they're lightweight yet sturdy. These can act on their own or complement additional wall reinforcement like anchors or bars.
The main reasons why mine tunnels come crashing down is due to reverberations, improper supports and mechanical mishaps. Controlled blasts can contribute hazardous vibrations, but in the event of further excavation with explosives, blast mats may prevent mine collapse when they're positioned over the blast zone. They can receive the bulk of the jolt and vibrations, displacing the force from the adjacent rock walls and ceiling.
LEARN MORE ABOUT BLAST MATS FOR MINING
Contact TM International, LLC for Blast Mats
Blast mats are more popular above ground, but the decision to install them below ground is catching on. Furnishing your surface or underground mining operation with blast mats can transform your safety practices despite the location where you're excavating. You can lead the way in protecting yourself and your job site.
TM International, LLC specializes in providing affordable blast mats, and our products are tough and long-lasting. You can benefit from them through your current projects and reuse them for your future endeavors. Our mats also ventilate fumes and gases to complement your mining ventilation system.
Contact us today to order our exceptional blast mats.