Electrical equipment, especially large-scale ones that are used in industrial and mining environments is extremely hazardous and a large percentage of electrical shock and fire-related deaths occur in mines. In comparison to most other industries, mining is the most hazardous and dangerous with regards to working with electrical power. What makes it even worse is that mining-related injuries can be disproportionately deadly compared to those suffered by personnel in other industries.
The fact is that mines always present unique challenges with reference to electrical safety. The materials being used in mines and all the gases and dust generated from the mining work, make the environment highly-conducive for even minor electrical accidents to transform into a major fires or explosions. Damp and dark conditions aggravate the complications. About 3/4ths of mine-related electrical injuries and fatalities involve the use of appliances, tools, machines as well as lighting; the other reasons are coming into contact with transformers, electrical components, and wiring.
How to improve the safety aspect
The good news is that all these accidents are preventable. Mine safety has to start with proper planning for the site and needs to stay that way until the time the mine closes down. Electrical safety in mines starts in the initial stage which is the planning process. Every single thing that’s related to powering the mines has to be carefully designed, planned and documented. Here are 9 tips to help increase electrical safety in mining environments:
- The environmental conditions in the mines have to be assessed and the planning, installation & operation of all the electrical systems have to be centred on controlling risk. This is especially crucial when the atmosphere in the mines could be combustible; in these cases, the electrical equipment needs to be isolated from the gases and dust and other things that have the potential to catch fire.
- While building the electrical system, make sure it is grounded well. You should also have systems in place that would cut-off the power supply automatically in case something goes wrong.
- Install a backup UPS power system that can be used to power all the critical systems such as the ventilation fans, winding apparatus, equipment in the control rooms and the environmental monitoring equipment.
- In case any changes are required to be made in the systems, ensure they are planned well, keeping in mind the impact they will have on the overall system.
- Make sure that heavy-duty power distribution system and cables are used in the installations and that these and all the equipment used is tested to function in mining environments.
- Make sure that circuit breakers are installed adjacent to the bus bars; this is the point where the high-fault bus bars are connected to the low-current auxiliary circuits
- Always design & construct electrical signalling, interlocking and control systems so that any electrical failure causes the equipment that is being monitored and controlled, to fail in a safe manner.
- If there is any chance at all that the insulation/conductors could become damaged, take appropriate steps to protect these using some type of enclosure or sheathing.
- Mining electrical systems should also always incorporate some kind of excess current protection. If it isn’t possible to do this, the strength, capability, and size of the equipment in that system needs to be adequate enough to withstand the magnetic, thermal, mechanical and electrical stresses it may be subjected to.
If you want to know more about our power products and services, don’t hesitate to contact us at KaRaTec Power Supply Pty. You can give us a call at 612 9808 1127. You can also fill in this contact us form.
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Karatec Power Supply Pty
612 9808 1127