Mining safety is a complex issue. Manned and unmanned areas of the mine need to be constantly monitored for environmental changes and potential dangers, while uncharted areas of the mine need to be mapped out and evaluated for hazards before exploration can take place.
Both fixed and wireless detection systems carry benefits, but both can bring shortfalls when used in isolation.
When it comes to finding a holistic approach to mining safety, combining fixed and portable and wireless systems is always the best answer to providing a comprehensive level of security to operatives on the ground.
Glyn Jones, CEO of Trolex Group, discusses the benefits of having a diverse array of gas detection solutions to promote the most efficient, safe, mining operations possible.
Fixed, continuous monitoring
Wireless gas detection equipment has been a huge benefit to the mining industry, but relying on this equipment in isolation is not the answer to employee safety.
Detecting gas leaks can be a significant challenge, even in the best conditions. Leaks often vary in behaviour based on density, ambient temperature and nearby airflow – including air flowing from outside the mine – and gas detection requires the equipment to come into contact with the gas to alert operatives.
Workers relying on mobile detectors would have to be in the area when the leak occurs to get an early warning, but wouldn’t necessarily be alerted if a leak occurred in another, unmanned part of the mine.
If operatives then walked into the impacted part of the mine, gas levels may have reached a severely hazardous level.
This is when fixed gas detection equipment plays a vital role in continuous environment monitoring.
The equipment cannot be taken around the mine as easily as mobile detectors, but once an area has been set up and further exploration is needed, a fixed system would be able to monitor the environment once operatives have moved on, and alert supervisors and operatives to any changing environmental factors in unmanned mining areas.
The connected nature of this equipment means that any changes or alerts can be sent directly to operatives wherever in the mine they are.
Mobile and safety in exploration
Where mobile, personal, wireless devices come into their own, is when uncharted areas of a mining operation need to be investigated – and shifting cumbersome equipment is not feasible – or when spot checks need to be carried out quickly.
Many areas within a mine, particularly those which have not yet been explored, can be compact and difficult to navigate, but enabling operatives to explore these areas while maintaining the same levels of safety is essential.
Portable gas detection solutions allow operatives to continually monitor their environment, with calibrated data being instantly extracted and analysed, while maximising productivity in the operation and maintaining the highest safety levels.
Holistic, constant monitoring to boost efficiency and safety
The obvious benefit to having a multi-layered network is that each system acts as a back-up to the other to ensure consistent and constant monitoring of the entire mining operation, with changes, hazardous events and data being fed back and analysed in real time.
The sophistication of modern wireless technology means that each system is always working as part of a network, without the need to wires or cables, which can impede the area and cause a safety hazardous in compact environments.
Choosing the right system for monitoring gas and hazardous substances is a constant challenge for mining operations, with cost, efficiency and safety always at the front of mind.
No matter which system an operation chooses, it is essential that it makes the best use of both static and mobile devices to ensure complete safety monitoring for operatives and boosting operational efficiency.
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