Moving machinery is the second highest cause of fatalities in South African mines, making the implementation of effective proximity detection systems a crucial step.
But there are are still perceived grey areas in mine safety regulations, says electronic safety equipment provider Booyco Electronics.
According to Anton Lourens, MD of Booyco Electronics, the Department of Mineral Resources has laid the groundwork for the wider application of proximity detection systems (PDS) through the February 2015 amendment to Chapter 8 of the Mines Health and Safety Act (MHSA).
It is now required that PDS be installed on all mobile equipment on mines.
“Mines are required to assess significant risk in terms of moving machinery and people; and based on that assessment an action plan needs to be in place to mitigate that risk,” Lourens says.
“But there is still some uncertainty about exactly what mines must do, as the legislation has changed in the last decade from being very prescriptive to being more reliant on the ‘reasonable man’ test. The law does not say exactly what activity must be carried out; rather, it says that the mine must mitigate the risk.”
“The revised MHSA allows for intervention systems on diesel machines underground and on surface, but is currently excluded from the promulgation so that’s where the confusion comes in,” Lourens notes. “Underground electrical machines must have intervention systems while underground diesel machines don’t have to; it does appear that the requirement will be enforced, but not right now.”
He highlights that PDS technology is still being developed to fully cater for all the requirements of the revised law; hence the staged implementation of the various requirements.
A global initiative by large mining companies – the Earth Moving Equipment Safety Round Table – was facilitating collaboration between stakeholders to help advance the technology.