Safety Suggestions You Don’t Think About
Safety article by Harold Hough
Some safety points are pounded into our heads on a daily basis like wearing hard hats and paying attention to heavy equipment. But, here are some suggestions you may not normally consider.
MINERS SHOULD ALWAYS WEAR REFLECTIVE MATERIAL EVEN IN OPEN PIT OPERATIONS. Every mine has a low light condition. Obviously, in underground mines, low light is found in tunnels. However, in open pits mines, low light conditions exist in shadows and buildings because miners working in sunlight have to adjust to shadow before they can see everything.
Although reflective material costs a few dollars more, it should be worn by everyone. In underground situations, pieces of reflective material should be worn on the arms, chest, back, and legs. In low light situations above ground, reflective vests like those seen on road construction jobs make the workers noticeable to everyone around them.
LIFE JACKETS CAN SAVE A MINER’S LIFE. “We don’t have any deep water at our mine” you say. But, what if your pumps fail for a few hours? Are you going to be forced to send miners or maintenance people into an area where drowning could be a risk?
Drowning isn’t just a risk in deep water. Someone could slip in a foot of water, fall, and knock themselves out. In fact, any situation where becoming unconscious is a risk is made more hazardous when there are more than a few inches of water on the ground.
Any mine that has a risk of flooding should have personal flotation devices available for workers who may have to work around water. The best bet is the Type I device, which is designed to turn most unconscious people face up in the water. This feature is especially important if a worker must work alone, even briefly.
KNOW YOUR ESCAPE ROUTES. One reason the 9-11 attacks on the World Trade Center didn’t cause any more deaths was that everyone knew where the stairs were and moved quickly down them to the outside. As a result, tens of thousands of workers are alive today.
A miner who not only knows the traditional escape routes, but alternatives like ventilation systems or bleeder entries have a greater chance to survive. Mines can help miners by expanding their safety classes to include unusual situations and providing information about the ventilation system.
TAKE THE KEYS WHEN WORKING ON HEAVY EQUIPMENT. It’s too easy for workers to move heavy equipment if the keys are available. Give the keys to the maintenance worker prior to maintenance and don’t expect to get them back until the work is finished.
BEWARE OF BATTERY FIRES OR EXPLOSIONS. As Miners News mentioned a few years ago, modern, high density rechargeable batteries are a fire and explosion threat. The major threat comes from using unmatched batteries and chargers. Be sure to use batteries and chargers designed for each other.
NEVER ASSUME THAT YOU KNOW WHAT THE PROBLEM IS. Before you put a vehicle back in service after repairs, check out other systems that might have contributed to the original problem in the first place. In one case, a miner was fatally injured when a haul truck was repaired after a brake problem. The worn brake linings were replaced and the truck was put back in service. A little later the truck was involved in a fatal accident due to a brake failure. The investigation found that the brake actuators were also worn out. Maintenance had assumed that the brake linings were the only problem and had failed to look for other problems.
Remember that safety requires attention to details. The more you pay attention to the small things the better the chances that the big problems won’t happen.