Putting safety first is essential for the wellbeing of miners and the legal compliance of mine companies, which is why underground atmosphere monitoring is so important.

Unexpected, harmful vapours can be inadvertently released within a mine without warning, which is why miners need to always be prepared for a potential gas leak or drop in oxygen levels.

Methane becomes highly inflammable and even explosive at atmospheric levels as low as five to 15%. Carbon monoxide levels as low as 0.1% are liable to cause fatality within just a few minutes, and it can take as little as 30 seconds of oxygen deprivation for a miner to lose consciousness.

Miners can protect themselves against the atmospheric hazards in their working environment by using both hand-held gas detectors and fixed underground atmosphere monitoring devices. These include multi-gas detectors, anemometers and diesel particulate monitors (DPMs), all of which are supplied by Carroll Technologies Group.

Carroll has led the North American mining industry for over 30 years and today provides over 800 mines with a broad range of safety equipment. Its customers can also reach out to its MinerCare 24/7™ team, who are continually on hand to offer technical support.

Hand-held underground atmosphere monitoring devices

One easily portable device supplied by Carroll represents the very highest calibre of multi-gas detection technology – the Mine Safety Appliances (MSA) Altair 4X Detector.

The Altair can be carried day-to-day by miners and will alert the user to the presence of combustibles, toxins and anaerobic environments within 15 seconds of detection.

The detector, which comes with patented MotionAlert™ technology as standard, will activate an alert when no movement is detected from an active user for 30 seconds or longer, should they be injured or unconscious. Users are also able to manually activate the InstantAlert™ alarm, which utilises the device’s alarm system to warn others of hazards in the near vicinity.

The ventilation of a mine system also needs to be monitored and managed regularly, and a tool such as an anemometer is vital for doing so. These small, portable devices use wind velocity to measure the volume of air entering and exiting the mine shaft, ensuring there is enough airflow to prevent the accumulation of dangerous gases. This not only keeps workers safe but maximises a mine’s efficiency by providing a comprehensive overview of the ventilation system.

Using an anemometer is one of the easiest ways to test air quality in a mine, and can be used to select appropriate ventilation equipment as well as ensure worker safety. This technology can be used for both quick ad-hoc checks and long-term monitoring of airspaces, requiring minimal technical understanding to operate. Carroll supplies the ST-1000 Vane Anemometers, portable models ideal for carrying by hand to monitor air quality between mining sites.

Underground atmosphere monitoring devices sensitive to diesel

With diesel engines commonplace in the mining workplace, it is vital that workers are conscious of the diesel levels present in their atmosphere.

To this end Carroll stocks the Flir Airtec DPM, which is a lightweight, portable device that can be strapped to a miner’s belt, attached to a vehicle or mounted on a wall in a high-risk area, displaying real-time elemental carbon levels on an LCD screen.

The Airtec system allows miners to modify vehicle use, their positioning or the ventilation system should diesel levels in the environment become too high. It also allows users to monitor the underground site for ongoing diesel overexposure.