You could be forgiven for thinking that underground mining is one of the most dangerous working environments in the world. A cursory search through several reputable news outlets & research organisations fail to list any sort of underground mining role as making it into the top ten – if you’re interested, logging is the most dangerous job in the world.
Despite the depths, cramped conditions, lack of natural light (or air) and in some cases, the sheer heat, underground operations have a remarkably good safety record. Visit any mine and it is not uncommon to find the ‘Days without LTA’ board with a figure in the hundreds. This is testament to the priority that safety is given in everything that an operation does, from its overarching philosophy through to the procedures and protocols they have in place.
However, accidents do happen. As the old adage goes: “Prior Preparation and Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance!” Many mines have an evacuation and rescue plan that is tested regularly. Even industry-sponsored events are held regularly to promote the activity as central to an operation’s DNA. Nevertheless, technology has advanced at such a pace that not only can the actual cause for an evacuation be significantly reduced, but so too can the effectiveness of the actual evacuation and rescue.
We would argue that communication is central to any aspect of an operation, especially for any evacuation and rescue. Traditional methods of sounding an alarm, such as voice comms and stink gas play their part; but how do you maximise the reach and manage the effectiveness of the evacuation? Transmitting the message is one thing, but how do you know everyone has received it? How do you monitor the progress being made in following evacuation plans? Again, its effective communication.
We have spoken in the past about the options for improving wireless communications, all of which enable applications such as tracking devices that contain embedded alarms. Furthermore, these tracking applications enable the rescue coordinator to view, in real time, the progress of the evacuation and quickly identify the priorities of a rescue operation.
Tracking is core to any evacuation & rescue plan, but of equal importance, is understanding the environment and using that information in conjunction with any rescue plan. Wireless telemetry allows the team to assess air quality, rock stability and monitor video feeds to better plan their operation. Equally, robust and flexible communication devices enable users to switch between narrow and broadband should one of the networks be negatively impacted.
Ramjack understands the challenges that any underground operation addresses on a daily basis, including an effective evacuation and rescue plan. As a systems integrator, we are able to bring together technology systems to address specific challenges facing your mine – our solutions fit your local needs, not demand that your situation change to enable our solutions.