PORTLAND, Ind., July 16, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Quarries and mines are two of the most dangerous workplaces in the world. More people are killed or injured in the mining industry than any other. Globally, official statistics show that 15,000 miners are killed each year, although the real figure is likely to be many more.
Mobile equipment and machinery are a huge contributing factor to the dangers faced by those in the mining and quarrying industries. The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) revealed that despite a 2% decrease in the number of workplace fatalities between its 27 member companies in 2018 compared to 2017, fatalities caused by mobile mining equipment and machinery was still the single highest cause of deaths across the sector.
As a result, the ICMM is exploring the use of creating safer vehicles through the provision of collision avoidance technology as part of its Innovation for Cleaner, Safer Vehicles (ICSV) program. Working with its members and equipment suppliers, the hope is to make collision avoidance technology available to mining companies by 2025.
The use of vehicle safety systems has proved to be extremely effective in reducing accidents and preventing fatalities. Corey Heniser, a vehicle safety expert at Brigade Electronics INC - a global leader in vehicle safety devices – said:
"Our safety solutions mean that worker safety can be improved with simple additions to vehicles. From camera monitor systems and warning alarms, to blind spot technology, collisions could be vastly reduced if drivers are equipped proficiently."
Blind spot technology
Blind spots are one of the main causes of collisions involving deaths and injuries. Driver visibility, particularly on large machinery, can be limited due to various factors. These include lack of direct vision through front and side windows, lack of rear vision, operator position, bulkheads, vehicle size, and type. Alongside this, wearing hearing protection reduces site workers' ability to clearly hear approaching vehicles, and poor visibility due to adverse weather and dusty worksites, increase the potential for accidents.
Depending on the vehicle type and use, there are multiple technology solutions that can be fitted to enhance safety. For example, vehicle-mounted 360-degree cameras, such as Brigade's award-winning Backeye360®, provide operators with a birds-eye view around their vehicle at all times, which they can monitor via an in-cab display. Extremely wide-angle lenses on the systems' cameras provide a comprehensive view of the area surrounding the vehicle that even large mirrors cannot match, completely eliminating blind spots.
Meanwhile, radar obstacle detection, which utilizes continuous-wave radar technology, can detect moving or stationary objects around the vehicle delivering an audible and visible alert to vehicle operators, allowing them to act accordingly. Heavy duty and able to operate even in high or low temperatures, radar obstacle detection is also waterproof and smoke resistant, and can be easily heard in noisy environments making it ideal for mining and quarrying.
Back up and warning alarms are also vital devices to warn ground workers that a vehicle is maneuvering. Multi-frequency smart alarms, using white sound technology, are highly directional, meaning that in adverse conditions, for example if rain is pounding down, the warning decibel level will be increased.
Davesmen, a company which supports mines throughout India, has been supplying and fitting Brigade's range of vehicle safety solutions to heavy earth moving machines.
In 2017, there were more than 1,000 recorded fatalities at Indian coal operations alone. The extreme number of accidents in India led to an introduction of tighter laws and, in July 2019, the Motor Vehicles Amendment Bill was passed.
Shamit Dave, Managing Director of Davesmen, said:
"Brigade's products have been received well by the mining market. We have had excellent feedback on the Backeye®360 system, especially when it's coupled with Backsense® radars. Drivers like that they can see the blind spots surrounding the entire vehicle, which reduces the stress of driving in the mines as well as helping to prevent vehicle damage and repairs."
As awareness grows for these safety solutions, it is hoped that this will provide a major boost for the growth of the industry. Shamit added:
"The future is filled with optimism. Vehicle safety has become a major part of this sector."