Safety Alert: Electrical Safety in Mining
The mining industry is notoriously hazardous. From around the globe, we’ve seen news stories about explosions or collapses in mines and felt gut wrenching sorrow when the reports are bad regarding survivors.
It’s natural to first think of collapse when considering mining accidents and tragedies. After all, it’s the story line in most dramatic movies. In fact, many fatal mining accidents are electrical in nature. The explosion that killed 301 miners in Turkey last month was caused by an electical fault in the power distribution unit.
Granted Turkish mines are not currently held to the same high safety standards as mine sites here in Australia, but contact with electricity is still one of the leading causes of Australian mining fatalities, accounting for 6% of mining deaths between 2000 and 2009.
The types of injuries caused by electrical mishaps include electrocution, electric shock, burns and arc blast injuries. Rick from Electricians Today has been a licenced electrician for over 20 years and has seen and experienced firsthand some of the real dangers associated with electrical wiring ‘You can never be too cautious when it comes to live wiring, and never become too complacent about the job’. A life is a life.
We know mining is one of Australia’s most dangerous jobs. Conditions are harsh, unpredictable, dusty and quickly deteriorating. One might think being in a mine underground is similar to being in a cave with a steady 55 degree temperature. Wrong, it’s normally sweltering, which causes dehydration, sleepiness and slower reflexes. Good safety protocols go a long way toward protecting people and property from accidents but failure to follow safety rules lead to accidents and injury.
Safe Equipment = Safe Mine
In many ways, humans are an extension of the tools used in the mining industry. But human value is much higher than any piece of equipment or electrical system. Mining safety begins with proper training and equipment. Under article 5.27 of the MSI regulations, all mining operations are required to have a testing and tagging system in place for equipment.
Equipment used includes ventilation systems, lighting, alarm systems, generators, signs and more. Personal protection equipment (PPE) is absolutely necessary as well. Work gloves, protective eyewear, personal ventilators, boots and hard hats are just some examples of what miners are required to use on the job.
All this equipment requires care and repair or replacement at regular intervals. Besides personnel training, using quality equipment, in good repair and working order, is the best way to ensure safety in any mining operation. After all, nothing brought out of the mine can replace human lives lost in preventable accidents.
Electrical Safety in Mining Infographic (Source: GE Industrial)