August 31, 2017

Mining equipment is like no other machinery known to man. In a machine shop, a press is at work, stamping out metal sheets. In an iron foundry, heavy materials are being processed. Absolutely, with no hint of contention, these are hazardous work places. A mine, however, is top-heavy with machine hazards, the likes of which few have seen. Subterranean or open area plant, what are the worst mining equipment hazards?


Miners are all too aware of the hazards they face. Beyond the cave-ins and trapped gasses, though, we need to add mining equipment hazards to the list. Crushing equipment is pulverising tons of rock. Safety precautions must be observed when personnel are anywhere near this impact-heavy gear. Flying shrapnel is one danger, with the fragments gaining enough energy to fly free like a cloud of sharp-edged bullets. When maintenance work is scheduled or a replacement part is called for, that gear must be deactivated. Safety signs are then mounted and all local emergency stop buttons are pressed firmly down.


Even crushed and cycled through grizzly feeders several times, the fist-sized detritus hardly looks like a profitable mineral stream. The high-flow rock weighs several tons, and it’s moving at some velocity into the various lined chutes. Safety guards must be maintained. In an age where elastomeric dampeners are making the difference between a regulated mineral stream and a wildly careening torrent, those rubberized railings need to be properly mounted. If they’re failing, replace them promptly when downtime is authorized.


Eccentrically oscillating motor armatures move screen beds dynamically. Meanwhile, on the long conveyor, exposed bearing mounts and jacketed pulleys pose a threat to worker safety. Adequate guards must be fitted over all exposed moving parts. Often, working in tandem with the guards, small electrical micro switches act as automated emergency stops. They activate if a guard is loose or removed. Maintain those switches.

On a positive note, equipment safety can be regulated. The safety guards and sensors fitted to the conveyors exist to protect workers. Similarly, a variation on this theme operates in crushing equipment. Meanwhile, elastomeric liners and guides safely channel the high-volume loads. As these governable equipment stages are managed, the mining manager evaluates other, possibly related hazards. Below ground, where the sound is trapped, acoustic management tech attenuates the noise with vibration-breaking hoses. Ear defenders complement this strategy. Finally, the dangerous gasses emitted by strange geological features are managed by sensors and breathing gear while any waste water is safely channeled away from the operational mine.


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