Safe Mining Practices

Guidelines for Mine Owners/Operators & Managers to Optimize Mine Safety

Deep pits and tunneling shafts carved into the earth are not inherently safe places to work. Mines are often extremely hot or extremely cold and they can be very unstable. Many underground mines are at risk of flooding or fire, explosions, poisoning or suffocating pressure from gas buildup, and other dangers besides.

Such conditions make mining safety a top priority for responsible mining executives and companies. While the specific steps you should take to protect yourself and your workers will vary depending on the exact nature of your work, the following seven best practices will help in any mining situation. If you have not already, be sure to integrate them into your safety protocols.

  • Always Evaluate Before Acting

Remember how your workshop teacher always told you to “measure twice, cut once”? Well, this is sort of like that. Before undertaking any mining task, ensure that you have thought it all the way through and know what you are doing. Then execute the procedure exactly as you planned it, avoiding distraction and the temptation to cut corners. Expect the same of any workers under you. Make sure to make the best possible plan for executing it in the safest way.

  • Only Use Equipment in Top Condition

Technological advances have made mining safer and more efficient, but only when equipment is in top condition. This includes heavy-duty mining geology equipment as well as smaller tools that could still cause harm. All should be continually maintained so they do not become glitchy, unreliable or hazardous. Check that everything works as expected before using it for dangerous operations, and check again afterward.

  • Exhaust Dangerous Gases

Dangerous gases are responsible for many mine accidents that take lives. Their buildup can cause explosions, and they can also suffocate and poison workers. A brief sampling of dangerous gases includes carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide and sulfur dioxide. Even oxygen in great quantities can be dangerous, because it is highly reactive. Make sure to follow proper venting procedures to prevent gas buildup.

  • Protect Workers from Temperature Stress

Mines exist in a variety of locations, many of them quite harsh. Those deep underground, for instance, may be warmed by heat flow from the inner earth, exposing workers to the risk of heat stress. Mines located in areas that are frigid or wet much of the year bring the opposite risk: cold stress. Always make sure that workers are wearing proper garb, relieve them at reasonable intervals so they are not overexposed to tough conditions, and ensure that everyone knows the signs of impending heat and cold stress so they can remove affected individual, if necessary.

  • Close Unused Shafts

Old shafts present many dangers, and are often blamed for mine disasters. They can create a buildup of toxic gases, for one thing, that may explode or penetrate to other areas of the mine and cause a hazardous situation. When unmaintained, their structural integrity also degrades, making it likelier that they could collapse when disturbed, as might happen if a worker unintentionally enters one.

  • Do Not Compromise Standards

Mines safety standards are often rigorous that protect workers from harm. Always obey the rules and regulations to ensure safety and, if you are not pretty sure about any by-law for taking for prompt decision, act as though you must adhere to the highest standards you have ever worked under. This will prevent an accident occurring due to simple negligence.

  • Build a Culture of Safety

Create the expectation that workers will report potentially hazardous situations right away, even if they aren’t sure it’s dangerous, so that nothing goes unchecked for too long. Be sure to make workers a part of safety strategy by encouraging speaking out about potentially unsafe conditions or actions on the part of coworkers, analyzing near miss incidents to see what went wrong and encouraging everyone to think of safety measures as part of production rather than an obstruction to it.