Traditional worker well-being has primarily focused on improving workplace safety.
Whether avoiding injuries due to slips and trips, or falling or faulty equipment, keeping employees safe and free from injury has been – and will continue to be – a major part of industrial workplace health and safety.
In recent years however there has been a shift from focussing on general safety towards promoting employees’ long term health – especially the potential impacts on long-term health associated with working in hazardous environments.
Even in a legacy industry like mining, data is transforming day-to-day operations, providing greater insight into activities and enabling project managers and operatives to refine their approach.
All kinds of industries, all over the world, are changing how they work to incorporate data collection and analytics into their infrastructure to streamline processes, and inform better decision making and forward planning.
Analytics and data are not new to mining, but faced with rising costs, the scarcity of materials and rising pressure and greater demand from clients for supplies, the sector is increasingly turning to data to improve operations.
In sectors under high degrees of regulation or operating within ever changing and chaotic political or economic circumstances the ability to maintain flexible budgets, invest in new and better equipment and remain viable is essential – especially within tight margins.
Those companies operating within industrial sectors like mining, manufacturing and petrochemicals understand this better than anyone and the challenge of providing effective equipment – both in terms of life cycle, productivity and health and safety is of the upmost importance.
Suppliers similarly face the challenge of competing for the business of these companies, and many are competing on the initial price when it comes to offering low costs up-front for monitoring devices, or ventilation and dust extraction.
Real-time monitoring and instant alerts of environmental changes are a critical element of modern hazardous industrial and mining operations.
New technology like mobile ‘connected’ devices, which can be used by individual operatives, or static equipment that can be hooked up to a wider network to report on changes or potential risks to safety, have undoubtedly improved the health and safety aspect of hazardous industries.
But with so many environmental elements to monitor and with the increasing need for separate monitoring equipment, the costs of providing 360-degree safety in hazardous environments can easily spiral and cause budgetary pressures on operations.
Improving efficiency and making effective use of finances is a continual focus across industrial sectors from mining to automation to construction to petrochemicals.
But these sectors are also often placed under high degrees of regulation and constantly have to deal with changing global economic circumstances, making budgets inflexible and investment in equipment and new technology much more difficult.
And it is not just the upfront costs of providing workforces with gas monitoring devices or installing ventilation and dust extraction in hazardous environments, the on-going costs associated with the replaceable consumables in this equipment – like filters, batteries and gas cells – which are often the most challenging aspects of budget pressures.
Modern mining is all about streamlining activities and maximising operator safety through the use of flexible, sophisticated and robust technologies.
Wireless equipment allows operatives to move freely throughout the mine and conduct operations, while even static equipment is much more technologically advanced in being able to report changes of environment in real time, ensuring maximum safety at all times.
However, while the equipment used in mining has become more technical, the environments in which operatives work in have remained just as harsh and hazardous as they have always been, and the question needs to be asked, can new digital equipment handle the dusty, humid and difficult conditions in which they are needed.
Trolex will be attending the Hillhead exhibition 26th-28th June, 2018. We will be showcasing the AIR X Particulate monitor and will even be carrying out LIVE demonstrations. Visit us on stand PB17- Main Pavillion.
Held in a limestone quarry in the heart of the Derbyshire countryside, Hillhead is the largest exhibition of its kind anywhere in the world. Register now for your free visitor pass.
Modern work environments are unquestionably safer than they have been in the past, with the rise of connected technology making it possible to detect potential problems before they arise and give early warnings to workers.
However, despite this increase in health and safety monitoring, industrial environments like mining and manufacturing inherently carry certain risks and in 2016/17, 137 people were killed in workplaces.
As the populace grows, public transport becomes more cluttered and road networks experience more congestion.
As a result, new transportation networks need to be made as quickly as possible – but in the rush, it’s important to remember that safety is the first and foremost concern, both in the sense of creating safe networks for drivers and passengers, and when it comes to the safety of operators during the project.
Safety in mining and industrial operations has improved considerably over the past decade – and indeed, the last century. Mine and industrial legislation and standards have helped to pave the way for more structured workplace safety, ensuring working conditions are optimal and that operatives are well trained to mitigate problems.
Of course, while legislation has helped to improve safety across mining and industrial operations, it is technology that has played a key role in facilitating some of the more comprehensive mining and industrial safety practices. In many respects, legislation and industrial safety technologies have worked hand-in-hand to deliver all-encompassing security for the workforce.