Safety is a huge concern in the mining industry. When mining injuries, fatalities, or near-fatalities make national or international headlines, the issue becomes even more crucial. The question is this: How does a mining company improve safety?
One often-overlooked aspect in safety issues has to do with equipment maintenance. The CDC reports that 30% of all injuries and fatalities in underground coal mining are due to machinery maintenance accidents. It can be shocking to mining managers to realize that the simple and seemingly safe tasks of maintenance are the cause of so many injuries and deaths. For this reason, improving equipment maintainability is one of the most direct and effective ways to improve safety.
The Causes of Mining Maintenance Injuries
Part of the reason why equipment maintenance is an injury prone arena is because it is viewed as routine, even safe. To use a metaphor, if a dog looks friendly, why be on your guard? Maintenance, however, is not a friendly dog. The danger of maintenance lies also in the complexity of mining machinery. Accidents happen when workers are not properly trained to operate and maintain large and complicated machines. In the process of maintenance, some companies fail to implement proper monitoring, procedure compliance, and procedural checklists. A final cause, not to be overlooked, is the aspect of faulty equipment design. To reduce the number of injuries and deaths, it’s important to address all of these issues as thoroughly as possible. What’s the best and most effective way to proceed?
How to Improve Equipment Maintenance Safety
The best single way to improve maintenance safety is to use safer equipment. A report published by the United States Department of the Interior Bureau of Mines, supplemented by investigations by the OMSHR, lists “design of equipment” as the first and primary way to improve safety.
Most mines are eager to implement checklists, improve training, change work schedules, launch new safety programs, enhance emergency response plans, and host motivational pep talks. All of those are important steps in the reduction of injuries. What they fail to do however, is to address the crucial issue of maintainability—the lack of which is one of the main causes of injuries. No safety program, regardless of its effectiveness, can mitigate the risks associated with risky maintainability on poorly-designed mining equipment.
The real solution, then, is to use equipment with improved safety and maintainability, such as the equipment produced by leading mining equipment manufacturer General Kinematics. Perhaps the reason why this issue is so easily dismissed is because it’s the most expensive and complicated solution. A mining operation exists by virtue of its equipment and personnel. To change such equipment requires Herculean efforts and costly expenses.
The barriers are not insurmountable. To view the issue from a different perspective, a company can’t afford not to have the right equipment. General Kinematics, a mining equipment manufacturer, is a key player in the field of safe and effective mining equipment. The rugged design of GK equipment reduces maintenance requirements by utilizing easily accessible machinery and few moving parts. This allows safer access to maintenance personnel. The heavy-duty design is also designed for significant life and uptime, reducing the frequency of required maintenance. To begin the process of improving your mine’s safety, survey the amazing selection of General Kinematics Mining Equipment.