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Health & Safety Features

Be invincible – a story of PPE in the mining industry

Personal protective equipment is nothing new to mining at all. However, that is just how it appears on the surface as MMPR has discovered a number of “emerging trends” that need to be put into the spotlight, otherwise there is danger of them being taken for granted.The face of it 3M Personal Safety Systems Technical Affairs Manager, Doug Uren, and 3M Mining Technical
Manager, Greg Comely-White, shared some of these “emerging trends”, and other useful bits of information that ties into PPE, South Africa, mining, and the rest of the world. “With occupational health and safety, there is a lot more awareness of diseases than there were, say, 10 years ago,” said Doug Uren, “silicosis, noiseinduced hearing loss, and TB are major issues in the industry.

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Venting: the good and the bad

Doors represent a pivotal component to the overall structure of a mine ventilation system. 	As the system changes so do the doors.

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A well-run mine has a well-run ventilation system. With the removal of noxious gases such as NOx, SO2, methane, CO2 and CO, a healthy working environment is guaranteed.
Are mines in South Africa today being well maintained? Is there any missing link which could advance the situation? How does the situation fare?

“The philosophy currently in use to ventilate mines has remained the same over many years because it works," said Marco Biffi, past president of MVSSA (Mining Ventilation Society of South Africa). “There has been no major shifts in paradigm but the strategy is to introduce gradual improvements as we get to know more about emerging technologies.

“One of the biggest issues for me is that research in this particular field has virtually ground to a halt in South Africa due to financial constraints. When margins are squeezed, you have to cut costs, and typically investment into R&D is a primary target of cost cuts.  South African mining research once led the world, but now some of the solutions we see today have been developed overseas and in many cases have to be adapted to our conditions. We should remember that our precious metal operations are very different to those in Australia or Canada because the structure of the ore-bodies is different and it requires different considerations ranging from the exposure patterns of workers, to different hazards to the technology that is implemented in protecting them.

Click here to read the full feature article on page 3 in the Mar/Apr issue of MMPR ...

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