How to ensure employee safety in tunneling systems

15 August 2019 (Last Updated August 15th, 2019 13:29)

Mines and tunnels are hazardous environments and having effective equipment in place to ensure employee safety in tunneling systems can save lives as well as improve a site’s overall performance.

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How to ensure employee safety in tunneling systems
Employee safety is a challenge that is often solved by the development of specialised equipment and practices. Credit: Nicolas J Leclercq on Unsplash.

Mines and tunnels are hazardous environments and having effective equipment in place to ensure employee safety in tunneling systems can save lives as well as improve a site’s overall performance.

Mines in particular have more potential for large-scale environmental harm and loss of life than many other workplace.

As mine sites increase in depth and size and tunneling companies become wider operations that involve more workers, employee safety becomes a challenge that is often solved by the development of specialised equipment and practices.

Gas detection technology

With no warning, harmful fumes can inadvertently release into a mine. Carbon monoxide levels as low as 0.1% causes death in a matter of minutes, while methane becomes highly combustible and at times explosive at atmospheric levels of just 5%.

Handheld gas detectors help to protect staff against a drop in oxygen levels or a potential gas leak. As it is vital for personnel to detect changes in their surrounding atmosphere instantly, leading mines and tunnels equipment provider Carroll Technologies offers a range of portable detectors.

These devices allow miners to trace leaks, check the atmosphere of confined spaces before entry and provide early warnings of the existence of hazardous gases. The Mine Safety Appliances (MSA) Altair 4x Detector is a fully portable device that represents the highest quality of gas detection technology.

The Altair, which can be carried by miners, alerts its user to the presence of toxins, combustibles and anaerobic environments within around 15 seconds of detection.

Respiratory protection for employee safety in tunneling systems

Respiratory hazards, particularly various dust particles, are commonplace in mines and tunnels. Disposable and non-disposable face masks are designed to protect the wearer from these exposures, which could cause serious lung problems.

Many masks are fitted with exhale valves, which decrease CO2 and heat build-up and are also moulded to increase user comfort. Disposable masks are one-shift items and are designed to be discarded appropriately after a maximum of eight hours of use.

In addition to disposable masks, semi-disposable and reusable half and full-face masks are effective methods of protection. Some masks are battery operated for more hazardous environments and longer duration use.

Effective ventilation with Bluefield curtains

Proper ventilation is a heavily regulated aspect of mine safety. Suitable airways must be in place to ensure clean air can enter a space while contaminated air filters out. There are numerous methods mine operators can use to attain a safe airflow.

Ventilation on demand (VOD), for example, is becoming an increasingly common option. Sensors are used to detect where people and equipment are present, directing uncontaminated air to flow through certain areas, as opposed to the entire site.

Carroll Technologies Group is a leading supplier of ventilation curtains, supplying an extensive range from Bluefield Manufacturing. They can be customised according to grommet type, material, size and space as per customer request. They are tear-resistant and can resist a wide range of temperatures.

About Carroll Technologies Group

Over 800 mine operators use Carroll Technologies Group for the company’s multifaceted range of mine and tunnel safety solutions. Every product and service is backed by the MinerCare 24/7 support team.

MinerCare 24/7 gives mine operators instant access to repair technicians, troubleshooting support, an inventory of spares, and comprehensive repair facilities. Carroll leads the mining products and services industry with this support network, offering the most comprehensive service and support organisation available to mining companies.