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What Kind of Safety Precautions do Miners Take?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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Miners work underground to extract mineral resources. Mines can range in size from very small to very large, but the same basic safety precautions are used in every mine. To supplement an industry standard of mining safety precautions, most governments have an agency that specifically regulates mining safety. In addition to passing laws, representatives of the organization regularly inspect mines to make sure that the miners are working in safe conditions. Common precautions include adequate ventilation in the mine, face protection and heavy clothing to protect the miners, and careful tracking of everyone who enters the mine.

The two primary concerns for miners are the oxygen supply and cave-ins. Many uncover toxic substances as they work, so adequate ventilation throughout a mine is crucial. In addition, most miners wear face protection, which may include a respirator, to protect the their mouths, throats, and lungs. Mine ventilation systems are regularly checked, and air quality is monitored to check for toxic gases. People who work in the mines protect themselves from cave-ins by meticulously reinforcing all freshly mined areas and checking those reinforcements on a regular basis.

In addition to protecting their faces, miners also wear heavy clothing and boots to protect their bodies. Sharp or projecting objects are removed or clearly labeled so that individuals do not hurt themselves, and mines also use extensive lighting systems for visibility. Holes and shafts, as a general rule, are covered over or brightly labeled so that gear and people do not fall. Other potential sources of danger, such as electric wires, are neatly covered and labeled.

Where people are within a mine is an important safety issue. Miners sign in and out when they report for work every day, and they make each other aware of their positions inside the mine. If a miner does not surface at the end of the day, teams will search for him until he is located. When working above others, a miner must inform them of his presence, so that they can be aware of the potential for falling rock. Likewise, those who work in lower regions of the mine warn others who are stationed above them.

Miners do not work alone, especially in dangerous areas, and many of them carry radios. For their safety, they are not allowed to work when under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Miners can also report safety violations without fear of reprisals. Most mines also have an evacuation plan in place, in case of an emergency, and all people who work in the mine are provided with the details of the plan. Safety inspectors may ask to see proof of correction of violations, and they will also check the safety conditions in the mine, and the state of the evacuation plan. A mine that routinely violates safety regulations may be shut down.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a AboutMechanics researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon349553 — On Sep 27, 2013

To avoid accidents in the workplace, it is best that your miners undergo mine safety training courses online. This will provide them with the much needed information for safety in the workplace.

By bythewell — On Aug 31, 2012

This makes me think of the bad old days when mining was even more dangerous than it is now. Now, at least, we have some idea of the shape of the earth and about gases and we have the technology to negate those kinds of risks and also to help people who are trapped.

Back then, the latest technology was to carry a canary into the mine with you and hope that if the gases started filling the space, that the bird would die first so you would get some warning.

Several generations of people died in mines, bringing up the ore and fuel we needed for the industrial revolution and I think it's a pity that they aren't celebrated more often.

By indigomoth — On Aug 31, 2012

@croydon - I think a lot of the time when something like that happens it wasn't even cost cutting that led to it, or at least, not directly. Sometimes it's simply poor organization. Sometimes it's the fault of the miners themselves. It can be tough to do the same thing over and over when you don't seem to need it (and you won't until you do).

Sometimes the corners are cut by a different business, without realizing that the products they are producing will eventually go to miners.

None of this is an excuse, of course. If you are going to do something dangerous, or ask someone else to do it, you should get your act together.

But it's not always about money.

By croydon — On Aug 30, 2012

I always kind of took mine safety standards for granted in our area, where there is a lot of mining. I thought, us being a developed country, that the mining standards would all be safe and upheld, because anything else seemed unthinkable.

But, there was a cave-in recently and a couple of the locals were killed in it. And in the aftermath it turns out that some of the recommended safety standards weren't being followed. Now, I accept that mining is dangerous, and that you are never going to make anything 100% safe. It's dangerous to cross the road, but that's life.

But to blatantly disregard safety standards seems like such a dumb thing to do, I just can't understand it. I mean, these are real people, with real families. It's too much of a risk to save a few dollars.

By anon252852 — On Mar 07, 2012

@anon27678: To keep the engine cool, so it will work efficiently.

By anon27678 — On Mar 04, 2009

what is the use of chiller unit in heatset web press m/c ?

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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