INDA 2017

Best of Germany 2014 - Mining Equipment and Mining Technology

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2 INDIA 2017 Safety and Training A successful work-site safety program might be described as a collection of good choices, selected from an ever-growing inventory of systems, products and services and shaped by a company's resources and commitment. At some time in the past, those choices may have mainly been influenced by how external regulations defined workplace safety. Nowadays, the list of "influencers" related to safety has expanded to include considerations based on workforce age, local culture, literacy and social license to operate, as well as concerns that might have once been fringe issues such as exposure to excessive vibra- tion, fatigue monitoring and the behavioral problems associated with fly-in, fly-out job arrangements, to name just a few. The ultimate safety objective for many, if not most, major mining companies is the eventual removal of as many workers as possible from the pit, stope or plant to reduce the potential risk level for harm in what usually has been, and probably will continue to be for most on-the-ground personnel, a challenging work environment shaped by a changing regulatory frame- work. For the near future, however, workers generally will be needed at the point of production, and corporate safety policies may be based on how much personal responsibility companies are willing to assign to those individuals to ensure their own safety and that of the workers around them, and at what point the company should turn to technology to take those deci- sions out of workers' hands. In this article, E&MJ takes a look at some of the digital technology available that can be used to tailor a safety system to fit a company's specific needs. Expensive, But Essential… Ensuring worker and asset safety is not a cheap endeavor, but the lack of an orga- nized, effective safety program can be even more financially damaging — as illustrated by a saying that's popular with safety pro- fessionals: "If you think safety is expensive, try [paying for] an accident." Although costs are always a concern in any type of business venture, mining companies seem increasingly willing to bite the bullet and spend the money needed to ensure worker well-being. But most companies, particularly midtier and smaller companies with finite resources, want to do it "their way" and not just blindly follow the guidance of regulators and consultants interested in checking-off a series of boxes on a list. Consequently, safety system flexibility and scalability are of increasing impor- tance, and although data is now the life- blood of industrial performance-measure- ment systems — and there is no lack of data sources, ranging from by-the-second inputs from remote sensors on a machine to long-term production trends generated by mine management systems — the key concern for most companies is how easily and effectively data can be used to identify potential problems or opportunities and make well-informed decisions. Safety in the pit depends heavily on equipment operators being aware of all that's taking place around them — which can be difficult due to the dynamic nature of the work envi- ronment. The latest systems from leading fleet management specialists aim to alleviate the problem through better use of onboard sensors and 'smarter' software algorithms. Mine Safety Moves to the Digital Domain Electronic data collection, drawing information from myriad sources ranging from 'wearable tech' to sensors on the largest production equipment, is making real-time worker safety guidance and incident intervention possible By Russell A. Carter, Contributing Editor

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