Health and safety in hazardous environments doesn't just have implications for the wellbeing of operatives, it can also have a serious impact on an operation's finances and viability.
Whether this is due to lost productivity or - in the worst cases - pay-outs after accidents or ill health, being able to identify the health and safety risks within industrial operations is essential.
Thankfully, industrial safety technologies are constantly evolving and improving along with the health and safety policies around harsh and hazardous operations. This means that employees are better protected from the dangers of their working environment.
In this blog, we take a closer look at how industrial safety technologies are evolving, as well as how they are improving health and safety within harsh and hazardous environments.
Strata monitoring tools
About 30% of mining accidents and fatalities in underground mines are as a result of rock fall.
Today there is a variety of different industrial safety technologies organisations can use to monitor the structural integrity of their mines or tunnels, all of which can be deployed at any point in an operation.
For example, the latest generation of Remote Reading Telltales can monitor roof movements in real time to confirm stability within mines and tunnels. These readings can be read underground with the use of a portable reader or they can be automatically sent to a central computer to be stored, processed and displayed.
The ability to have continuous, real-time monitoring means readings are extremely precise, and monitoring is as effective as possible. Couple this with alarms to notify workers to any danger that needs a mine or tunnel to be evacuated quickly – and the modern hazardous working environment starts to become significantly safer.
Gas detection technologies
Modern industrial safety technologies provide mine operatives with wireless gas detection solutions, portable devices and fixed gas detection networks, all of which are robust and can be integrated into existing systems.
More advanced gas detection systems can detect hazardous gases instantaneously through real-time analysis of the environment. These systems are designed to be rapidly deployable (allowing operators to conduct spot checks at any time) and can be connected to a SCADA system to display environment information locally, remotely, or modified to monitor for specific gases.
For operators in harsh and hazardous areas, it’s no longer a question of deciding what gases to monitor or acquiring multiple gas detection systems to facilitate the monitoring of different gases – it can all be done with gas-specific industrial safety technology.
The biggest issue now facing operations when it comes to gas detection is the cost of ownership and the close to 1,000% mark-up being placed on consumables for the detection equipment by many suppliers; driving up the cost of using this essential equipment and placing unnecessary strain of health and safety budgets.
Real-time particulate monitoring
Roughly 13,000 deaths a year are linked to past exposure to chemicals or dust from within hazardous environments, according to the UK Health and Safety Executive - 35 people every day.
Work related ill-health is a multi-billion pound problem for the UK: £9.7bn in 2016/17 to be exact.
Monitoring hazardous particles, particularly in environments where machinery is constantly active, has always been a challenge. Quarries, rock crushing operations, earthworks, open cast mines – all of these environments are dusty by nature and, as industrial machinery is used in these areas they disperse particles which, when inhaled, can cause long-term damage to employee health.
The particles emitted during such operations need to be recorded, monitored and analysed to ensure compliance with relevant health and safety standards and permitted exposure levels (PELs).
Typically, this process takes days to complete, if not weeks in some cases. Though this method is good for reporting dust levels on a specific day in the past, it does not provide real-time monitoring. Therefore, this process is significantly limited in providing an accurate representation of what dangerous particles operators are exposed to at any given moment.
Real-time particulate monitoring solutions, such as Trolex’s Air XD, uses intelligent laser sensor technology to deliver highly accurate and real-time dust measurement. This lightweight, rugged and low maintenance device is the first of its kind and is set to redefine industrial safety technologies used for particulate monitoring.
The Air XD can operate independently as a real-time warning device or as part of a dust-suppression-on-demand system. It can also be combined with a range of wireless, portable and transportable gas detection packages, as well as machine, pump, ventilation and environment systems to provide end-to-end protection in any operation.
All of the industrial safety technologies covered in this blog are available today for organisations to use to transform health and safety across their operations, and improve overall productivity.
These technologies can be readily deployed into an operation at any point and connected with existing infrastructure to provide complete control over activities.
Download our eBook, "2018 Trends. How are new technologies transforming hazardous industries?", to find out how intelligent technology is improving worker safety and productivity in the mining and wider industrial sectors.