emergency prevention technology for mining industryLeading health and safety officers in mining are working to promote the idea that people are responsible for all safety outcomes and are trying to dispel the common attribution of safety incidents to ‘accidental failures’. Safety officials who hold this conviction insist that only by targeting and influencing the people who contribute to safer mining operations we will see improvement. The approach to risk and safety approach has to be methodical and multi-platform which includes cultural development, systems functionality and results based targets being fulfilled, is the firm belief of Anglo American Health and Safety Officer, Brad Norris.

Advanced technology such as eLearning, virtual reality training, wireless communications and real-time location systems is making it significantly easier for mining operations to promote a culture of safety, competency of workers as well as efficient rescue operations.

E-Learning courses for mining industry

eLearning, or distance learning courses presented by official regulation bodies such as OHSA (Australian Occupational Health and Safety Association) as well as private safety training companies like EduMine and Convergence Training make safety training and competency tests accessible to the worldwide mining community. By collaborating with governmental or educational institutions training courses are available for every level of mining personnel, from mining supervisors, health and safety reps to those working at heights.

While many Safety Professionals are still of the opinion that instructor-led training is superior to eLearning Jeffrey Dalto from Convergence Training points out that studies, data and evidence have shown that the media utilized in training (eLearning, instructor-led etc) does not show significant impact on the effectiveness of learning. While this equals the playing field when similar course material is presented, eLearning courses often outperform because of the availability of technically sophisticated features such as large scale individual competency assessments as well as life-like simulations of task performance and emergency situations which are rarely used in instructor-led sessions.

Virtual Reality training in mining

Another exciting advancement in preventative action is the development of Virtual reality training courses for the mining industry. Australian company Coal Services, is a registered training organisation (RTO) that provides health, training, safety and environmental monitoring services to coal mines across NSW. Since 2008, their Mines Rescue business unit has been presenting virtual mine safety training from their Virtual Reality 360 degree theatre facility in Wollongong as well as onsite through a portable system.

Vicky Validakis from Australian Mining visited the Wollongong facility to experience first hand how virtual simulations are being used to immerse training participants in situations which are too dangerous to recreate in real life (gas explosions, underground fires) and to then train miners on how to respond if they should ever find themselves in these dangerous situations. “You can’t light fires underground, you can’t have smoke coming at you, and you can’t put people in high pressure situations in real mines where they have to make decisions, but you can do that here,” explains State Operations Manager of Mines Rescue, Steve Tonegato.

Wireless technology for safer blasting

November’s 2015 international mining and resources conference (IMARC) in Melbourne, Australia gave the industry a preview of how wireless technology will be changing mining operations such as blasting.

Nick Bowen, Orica group Executive of Strategic Marketing and Technology, presented their next generation wireless blasting system which promises to be the latest breakthrough in blasting technology. Following on a history of technological advancements, from the Safety Fuse (1830), Electric detonators (1910), Non-electric detonators (1980) to electronic blasting systems (2000), the world’s first commercially available wireless blasting device overcomes many of the safety challenges associated with blasting in sub-level caving operations.

Real-time Locations Systems (RTLS) for early warning

The successful implementation of WiFi in surface and deep mining systems has proven to be a revolutionary advancement towards prevention of safety incidents as well as emergency response. By equipping miners with location tracking devices and real-time reporting of data to a master controller, early warning reports can be delivered to relevant individuals to enable immediate response. Real-time location systems can prevent safety incidents by alerting managers when miners are making zone movements that might have fatal consequences, and is also a means of increasing the speed and efficiency of rescue operations where operations have been affected by disasters such as shaft collapse.

In a nutshell

Advanced technology for safer operations, worker training, emergency preparation as well as early warning systems can be utilized by mining companies to provide a safer working environment, to promote a culture of safety and to ensure that workers are competent in preventative behaviours.

Would you like to know more about how Real-time Location Systems are improving safety in mining operations? Download our FREE eBook by clicking on the image below.

Underground Mine Safety