Mines can be hazardous environments and the possibility of fire, flood, explosion and collapse has the potential to simultaneously affect a large number of people. Employers and workers should be aware of the fact that working in the mining industry is a hazardous job. Working in the mining industry comes with many hazards filled with risks and danger, which requires both employers and workers to be alert at all times.
Here are seven tips to consider ensuring a healthy and safe work environment –
- Always wear personal protective equipment
Personal protective equipment (PPE) is one of the many precautions to ensure the health and safety of mining workers. PPE is designed to protect workers from workplace hazards that can cause serious injuries and illnesses. Therefore, it is crucial that all workers be provided with the appropriate safety equipment and devices so that they can complete their job task safely. Common PPE for mining workers include – hard hats, with head lamps, eye protection, high-visibility vests, steel toed safety boots, gloves, hearing protection, and task appropriate respiratory protection.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate
With the decrease in visibility in some mines, communication between employees is crucial. For example, equipment operators will need to know the exact location of other operators and employees, as well as the type of work being performed in the areas they will be passing through. Communication can come in the form of two-way radio, instructional signs, taped or roped off areas, and traffic signs. Additionally, ensure that the daily tasks be communicated before the start of a shift.
- Stay alert to changing conditions
The conditions at a mining site constantly change. From the amount of lighting to the weather conditions, to the work being performed, there is always the potential for safety hazards. Employees must always be alert and continually look for hazards that may occur. If a hazard or risk occurs during the shift, employees should be aware that they must report these conditions to their supervisor or the safety representative. When possible, hazards should be eliminated through administrative and/or engineering controls.
- Know the respiratory hazards
Airborne particles pose many safety risks in mines. The particles can create a visibility hazard if the dust is not contained or the haul roads are not kept damp. Additionally, coal, asbestos and silica dust are considered respiratory hazards at varying levels. These particles and fibers have the potential to cause lung complications, disabilities and fatalities. Ensure that workers wear the proper respiratory protection needed for their job task, and have the jobsite regularly tested to determine the amount of respiratory protection needed.
- Inspect machinery and equipment
Walk around inspections only take a few minutes and is one of the best ways to identify mechanical problems, as well as avoid safety hazards. Do not limit these inspections to the start of the day. Perform these walks around at the beginning and end of each shift.
- Employee training must be a priority
Practice makes perfect therefore, new operators must be properly trained before starting work on a jobsite. An operator who is not properly trained is a hazard to everyone on the mining site. Additionally, operators must understand the manufacturer’s operation and maintenance manual before putting machines to work. Furthermore, to create a safe work zone, it is important that all employees understand the common communication practices used on the jobsite.