Oct 17, 2012- 1:50 PM
The past 30 years have shown a dramatic increase in technology in mining. Prior to the 1980s, the majority of excavation work was done with hand-held equipment, using pressurized air and water.
The biggest advances in taking workers away from the face, the singular most hazardous place, was utilizing mechanized equipment, and more recently, remote mechanized equipment.
When electric hydraulics were introduced, everything became bigger, stronger and faster.
The consequences of this was more advanced rock mechanics and ground support required to safely allow the rapid advance of stopes and headings.
Even with ongoing changes to safety practice and procedures, the modern environment has created life-threatening hazards not seen in historical mining.
In this new age of mining, the rapid advancement of equipment and procedures has superseded the advancement of safety.
The current high cost of wages and equipment puts pressure on engineering design to maximize capable tons produced and concurrently maximize profit. The worker must have the tools and training at hand to safely complete any task.
Safety procedures are only as strong as the people who enforce them and the workers who must follow them.
Safety procedures must be proactive and not reactive. The target for every mine is zero LTA (lost time accidents). As much effort as is put into this, the target is rarely ever met.
The fact is, injuries and fatalities are still not uncommon, proving the health and safety system in its present state is inadequate and unacceptable.