In the setting of a modern mine, simply having a working gas detector has now become insufficient. As traceability and accountability for worker safety come into sharper focus, the need to keep up to date with new and improved technologies has become evident

As they are at the forefront of decision-making, it is the South African mine owners’ ethical responsibility to implement practices and technologies that maximise worker safety and operational efficiency.

Practices such as ensuring workers wear the correct equipment when entering the mine, checking that the gas detectors have passed a daily “bump-test” (a function check to ensure they respond correctly to known gas concentrations) and making sure that all instrument data is downloaded and stored at the end of each shift, are crucial to the success of any mining operation.

With all of the above having to be incorporated into daily working practices, there are clearly two major requirements for a modern gas detector: simplicity and efficiency.

These requirements are what led Harmony Gold, owners of Kusasalethu mine – located in the West Rand of Gauteng – to purchase 1 001 MSA Altair® 4X Mining and 30 MSA Galaxy® GX2 calibration test stands from Mine Safety Appliances’s (MSA’s) long-standing channel partner, PSA Africa.

New MSA technology makes mining safer and speedier

After designing, building and installing a system for Harmony Gold – that smoothly integrated the Altair® 4X Mining and Galaxy® GX2 into the Kusasalethu mine access system, and simultaneously kept things simple for the miners who made daily use of this process – industry safety equipment experts, PSA Africa, noticed a marked improvement in the speed and efficiency of mining procedures, as well as a decrease in bottlenecks on entry and exit to the mine.

The new system’s allowance for random instrument assignment during the issuing process was partly responsible for this. In addition, the system’s use of radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags, which are embedded in the instruments, helped automate processes such as keeping track of who has each instrument, and carrying out safety-gear checks before permitting underground access.

Furthermore, the MSA/PSA system also checks the integrity of each gas-detection instrument through the pre-shift testing process, which, in turn, reports back to the access-control system to alert the system if the instrument has passed or failed the pre-shift test. If it fails the pre-shift test, the miner will not be permitted underground entry.

At the end of each shift, miners can now dock their instruments into the Galaxy® GX2 to download the data from their instruments to the MSA Link™ Pro management software. Any alarm conditions will be reported at this point. Should an alarm condition be reported, the system will notify the lamp room staff that they need to download the periodic data. These systems and processes can be integrated into existing mine access systems, simplifying and streamlining mine management.

The successful implementation of this new system has afforded Kusasalethu mine more time to concentrate on other aspects of the organisation, safe in the knowledge that their workers always have the correct operational equipment at hand.

MSA’s product expertise together with PSA’s integration expertise have helped ensure Kusasalethu miner safety is state of the art, future-proofed and user-friendly.

For more information visit www.psaafrica.co.za or email enquiries@psaafrica.co.za.

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