Time to Prioritize Labor Safety, Cut Operational RisksWed, 10/16/2019 - 17:00
Mining is a high-risk environment that can put a labor force in jeopardy but safety regulations for mine processes differ significantly. Efraín Martínez, Regional Segment Mining Marketing Manager for Dräger Mexico, says that in Mexico, plans are finally afoot to strengthen the rules. “Mexico has not done a thorough review of these norms since 2012, but I know there are plans to do it soon to implement stricter policies,” he says.
Dräger, a leading safety technology company that collaborates with the industry’s key players, such as Grupo México, Industrias Peñoles, Pan American Silver, Goldcorp and Endeavour Silver, contributes to the safety revisions carried out by the regulatory bodies. “Usually, these entities review international standards and replicate them, instead of creating their own based on local needs,” says Martínez.
Gases, dust, exposure to high vibrations and stress, just to mention a few, are factors present in mine operations that often cause long-term illnesses. “We strive to promote safety and make the industry realize why the issue plays a vital role in mine operations,” says Martínez. “We cover the operational part of worker safety, such as breathing and eye protection. Dräger has always been recognized as a high-quality technology provider.”
Mining shelters, rescue vehicles, gas detectors and monitors, are some of the products Dräger offers. The company also specializes in rescue and escape solutions, detection of high-risk environments and in ensuring that the equipment matches the quality required by international standards to guarantee miners’ security, says Martínez.
With over 100 years in the industry, mining is a key segment in Dräger’s global strategy, along with oil and gas. In 1904 it developed one of the first autonomous breathing apparatuses, used for first time one year later in a mine fire in France. Since then, the company has grown globally and across several industries. “I believe that we are very well-recognized in mining, especially due to the quality our safety equipment,” says Martínez.
Dräger also specializes in occupational health and safety equipment, such as gas detectors and respirators. This is particularly relevant in underground mining, where many companies have adopted a zero-accident targets. The company’s expertise extends self-contained self-rescue devices and refuge shelters for emergency situations, providing solutions across the entire safety and security value chain.
Despite technological advances and efforts to improve existing regulations, the mining industry still experiences many accidents. To address this issue, Martínez believes the first priority should be to focus on training and promotion of a safety culture. “We must make miners aware of why they must use personal protection equipment and how to do so properly. The government should make concerted efforts to promote a safety culture and to foster investment.” It is also vital to regulate the safety equipment operating in the country and to ensure that it is of the highest quality, he says.
With mine development involving bigger, deeper and more isolated mines, the industry faces important security challenges. “As a technology company, Dräger endeavors to develop new technologies that allow our clients to address these risks,” Martínez says. Many mines are using drones for safety purposes. One application is to measure the potential gases left post-blasting without risking the wellbeing of a miner. But as new technologies revolutionize the industry, he says the purpose of safety equipment may change. “We must analyze the industry trends to better understand what miners require,” he adds. “Maybe the need is no longer to protect humans, but assets.”