fire protection

Mining fire protection is absolutely essential. More than 200 fires occurred in Australian mines between September 2014 and May 2017. That three-year span had two times as many disasters as the seven years between 2001 and 2008. Mining safety does not have to be complicated. 

How can you assess the risks in your mining operations? What should your evacuation plan and training sessions look like? What should your first response be to any fire? 

Answer these questions and you can keep your workers safe from a mining blaze. Here is your quick guide.  

Assess the Risks in Mining

Get a blueprint of your mine and any surrounding buildings. Plan out where fires could start and how they could spread outward. 

Look at your equipment and see how it could contribute to a fire. Anything that creates sparks, like circular saws, should have careful oversight. 

The resources you mine for are also important. Coal can catch fire and burn for several hours straight. Natural gas is also easily flammable, and it can cause explosions if it builds up in a confined space. 

At the same time, you should assess evacuation points out of a mine. Figure out spots where it is difficult to communicate, including through hand signals. Devise ways that employees can reach each other and organise an evacuation in little time. During an evacuation, a slip can impede rescue efforts and cause a stampede. 

Organise Training Sessions 

Even simple efforts necessitate a brief session about the safety risks involved. Touch base with every employee about the danger of fires. Don't scare them with excessive details about injuries, but inform them about the significant risks. If you aren't comfortable presenting this material, you can hire fire protection professionals to give a presentation. 

Review regulations related to mining fire protection in Australia. All supervisors should be aware of them and follow them to the letter.

You should run a fire drill every few months. Sound alarms inside your mines and surrounding buildings and require your employees to evacuate. 

Have The Necessary Fire Protection Equipment  

It can be difficult to put out mineral fires with water. You should have a separate system that disperses flame-retardant foam and water mist. 

Each employee should have their own breathing apparatus. Smoke inhalation in recent bushfires killed more than 400 people, while burns killed far fewer. Giving each worker their own supply of oxygen can save their life. 

Portable fire equipment should be near every major worksite. Fire extinguishers, blankets, and triage kits for burns are essential. You can add a fire axe to dismantle obstacles as well as containers of water. 

Communication equipment should be available for everyone. Walkie-talkies and radios are affordable for many organisations. 

Keep Track of Safety Efforts for Mining Fire Protection

Document when you buy your fire protection equipment as old equipment may become out-of-date quickly. 

After an evacuation drill, run interviews and make an assessment of what needs improvement. You may need to practice putting out a fire, or you may need help with first-aid procedures.

Put a plan into writing and fill in the missing safety gaps. Revisit the plan and revise it with new details, even if you don't have a fire. 

Talk to a fire safety professional about what you can do. Touch base with other mining companies to see what their policies are and stay consistent with them. This will help bring new employees up to speed on your efforts. 

Respond to Disasters  

A small fire can spread quickly through a mine. Do not hesitate to order an evacuation if a fire cannot be immediately contained.

If sprinklers and extinguishers do not suffice, you must get everyone out of the mine. Communicate through the radio that everyone should leave and call first responders or take the help of fire protection professionals.

Once you're out, organise a headcount. If people are missing, do not go back into the mine to retrieve them. You risk becoming injured and making the situation worse. 

Wait for first responders to arrive, though you can tend to people with mild injuries. Rub burn creams on areas that seem red or irritated, and supply oxygen for people with difficulty breathing. 

How You Can Keep Workers Safe From Mining Fires 

Start by mapping your mine and figuring out how fires could spread. 

Bring your employees together for a series of safety sessions. Assess workers to determine what needs improvement.

Get tools for all employees and keep track of your overall efforts. Be as prompt as you can be when a fire breaks out. Initiate the evacuation and remain outside until responders can contain the flames. 

Don't let a fire catch you by surprise. Hire fire protection professionals today.

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