Report: APP CMHS Project 4

CSIRO advises that the information contained in this comprises general statements based on scientific research. The reader is advised and needs to be aware that such information may be incomplete or unable to be used in any specific situation. No reliance or actions must therefore be made on that information without seeking prior expert professional, scientific and technical advice. To the extent permitted by law, CSIRO (including its employees and consultants) excludes all liability to any person for any consequences, including but not limited to all losses, damages, costs, expenses and any other compensation, arising directly or indirectly from using this publication (in part or in whole) and any information or material contained in it.

6.6.1. Protective Equipment

All underground personnel are required to take self contained self rescuers (SCSR) underground, though they may not necessarily always personally carry them – some being carried in mobile equipment with the requirement that they are within 1m of the person. These SCSRs are typically chemical based oxygen generating systems (rather than compressed air bottles). Everyone at a mine who is exposed to regular mining hazard is required to re-train in the use of SCSRs every 3 months. There is a consistent and strong focus on the ability of all persons to escape and use SCSRs even to the point of MSHA challenging visitors to escape. SCSRs are also provided in caches for escaping miners. Some mines have Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA – compressed air bottles) and recharge stations rather than chemical activation units.

Emergency refuge chambers (Figure 9) are a requirement in all underground mines providing a self contained extended duration safe haven for mine workers who cannot escape in the event of an emergency situation. NIOSH is focussing on how people make decisions with respect to the use of refuge chambers and how they react in such conditions.

Figure 9 Refuge Chambers inflated from a purpose built trailer

It is a federal requirement to provide positive location devices for all underground mine workers. The requirement at the time of researching was beyond the scope of the existing technology; however, the technology (as described in Section 6.1.4) was undergoing approval and is expected to be accessible at the time of publication of this report. The existing system provides for simple tagging of all persons underground and indicative location – though the system is significantly manual (Figure 10).

Figure 10 Tags boards to record all underground personnel for tracking purposes

Some mines use green laser torches for locating and assisting with escape from mine fires as this colour and system have been found to be most easily identified in smoke. Fire equipment typically comprises standard fire hoses and associated apparatus and high expansion foam generators. Smoke training is conducted for fire brigades annually.

Other emergency equipment under development includes – stretcher technology and knee pad design and application.

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